Axis of Resistance Frustrated Three Phases of the Project for a ‘New Middle East’

Trump Kushner

Al-Manar Website Editor

August 13, 2019

The first phase of the so-called New Middle East was just after ‘the Summit of Peacemakers’ in 1996, when former Israeli premier Shimon Peres applied his New Middle East vision by declaring the “Operation Grapes of Wrath” on Lebanon for 16 days in April 1996.

During the 2006 Lebanon war, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the beginning of the New Middle East. After almost one decade of political attempts to resolve the Arab- Israeli conflict, the US decided to use a brute force to eliminate what it saw an impediment to the ‘peaceful’ resolution of the conflict by pushing ‘Israel’ to attack Lebanon, destroying its infrastructures.

The first phase of the above mentioned project has fallen after the US-Israeli failure to impose their conditions for the 2006 ceasefire agreement on Lebanon. It was Lebanon which emerged victorious after a 33-day war, as declared by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. It was the resistance of Hezbollah that turned the table on the New Middle East project, said the Winograd Commission report, after the investigation of the causes of failure in the 2006 war.

In 2011, the second phase of the scheme has started, Syria was the battlefield. However, the US-backed terrorists failed to overthrow the Syrian government, and the second phase was over. Then, the old Shimon Peres vision was revitalized and there was the third phase of the so-called New Middle East project.

The US administration proposed an economic approach, allegedly to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, in a bid to gain in politics what it couldn’t achieve in the war.

US President Donald Trump sent Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, who is presented as the godfather of the ‘Deal of Century’, to the region. Kushner decided to replace the well-known slogan of “land for peace” principle with his own one: “peace to prosperity”.  He believes that such a slogan could reduce the conflict to an economic problem that can be resolved by improving the living standards of the Palestinians.

The absence of a draft solution for major political issues, particularly Palestinian statehood, the status of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the Palestinians’ right to return to their land, turns Kushner proposal to be a mere attempt to bribe the Palestinians into giving up self-determination.

The funding issue is also a significant factor of disruption for that deal, especially that EU, the traditional donor, did not participated in the workshop in Bahrain, neither Russia, nor China.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, which has shown an extreme enthusiasm for the deal, has been already facing an economic problem and the war in Yemen, which has cost it billions of dollars. The US, where the proposal was launched, certainly would not spend that much money, particularly under Trump administration, who prides himself on extracting monetary concessions from other countries, including Saudi Arabia by extortion, or by the arm sales.

The development and prosperity that Kushner is heralding can only happen if the Israeli occupation is ended.

In contrast, the Trump administration has already made major steps in strengthening the pillars of the occupation, including recognizing Israeli annexation of Al-Quds and the Golan Heights.

With all these major flaws, it was hardly surprising that the Bahrain Workshop failed to jump-start the deal process.

The Axis of Resistance is accomplishing important steps in the warfare in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, preventing Trump and his allies to step forward for the announcement of the “Deal of Century” that could eradicate the Palestinian cause in favor of the Israeli occupation. Hence, the third phase of the New Middle east has also failed.

A flashback to Madrid conference in 1990: the peace process had been built on the principle of “land for peace”, where ‘Israel’ withdrew from occupied Arab land in 1967 in exchange for peace and normalization of ties with the Palestinians and Arabs.

The 1993 Oslo Accord provided a political vision for Shimon Peres’s plan – a two-state solution – which was followed by the 1994 Paris Protocol that established rules regulating economic relations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

This vision was also the core of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia in Beirut Arab League summit.

Needless to say, all past proposals have failed for one simple reason: They were all in favor of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Returning with Oslo: Stateless, without Identity

By Al-Ahed

Gaza – Ayman Matar, a Palestinian from the besieged Gaza Strip, had the opportunity to work as a teacher in a school in Kuwait. But sadly, he won’t be able to travel because he has a “zeroed” passport.

People with “zeroed” or invalid passports are those carrying the temporary Palestinian passports, who entered the Gaza Strip after the return of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, filed family reunion applications years ago to obtain an identity card with an official number, but still didn’t receive any endorsement by the ‘Israeli’ occupation authorities regarding the “family reunion”, hence their passports carry zeroes as their serial numbers.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian and Jordanian authorities stopped dealing with people carrying “zeroed passports” under the pretext of lacking identification papers that qualify them for traveling.

Ayman is shocked for not being able to leave the Gaza Strip to build his future. “I am jobless in Gaza. I’ve made the impossible to be accepted among the teachers’ mission to Kuwait… but I am deprived of my simplest rights, God will suffice me,” he says.

Ayman adds that his right to travel is one of the simplest rights in other countries, as well as for other Palestinians who enjoy travelling freely without any obstacle.

“Why there are not yet any solutions for the people with ‘zeroed passports’,” Ayman asks, adding that: “We have the right to travel, receive medical treatment, study and work just like any other human being.”

Noting that he had entered Gaza via his ‘zeroed passport’, Ayman called on the Palestinian Authority to find solutions for those people to be able to travel and fulfill their needs.

Another case is Mrs. Sahar al-Baz. Her ‘zeroed passport’ banned her from seeing her father before he died in 2009 after she came to the Gaza Strip where she made a family and settled without her parents who remained abroad.

“There are different examples and painful stories of the people with ‘zeroed passports’… for what is this pain they are rooting in our hearts? We need a solution to our problems, it is enough of grief, sorrow and suffering,” Mrs. al-Baz says.

“I have the right to own a Palestinian identity and be recognized in the entire Arab world.”

The lady, in her forties, called on the Palestinian Authority to communicate with the Egyptian government to allow them pass through the Rafah Checkpoint to access the outer world.

People carrying these passports hold sit-ins in front of the Refugees Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] in Gaza to demand radical and quick solutions for their cause that is still extending.

According to Palestinian Journalist Muthni al-Najjar,

“We are protesting in front of the PLO’s gate to convey a message of protest and ask all the concerned parties whether in Gaza or Egypt to stop the suffering of more than 5000 Palestinians for not being legally nor internationally recognized.”

The journalist returned to Gaza from Iraq in 1994 and remained there without a national record. He has a blue identity card issued by the Gazan Interior Ministry which allows him to enjoy domestic rights but is not recognized abroad.

There are some 5000 Palestinian nationals carrying the ‘zeroed passports’, lacking all rights that range between the right to receive medical treatment abroad to seeing their family members outside the Gaza Strip, not to mention their natural right to receive education in a foreign country.

The ‘zeroed passports’ term is referred to the people who were displaced due to the ‘Israeli’ occupation of Palestine and returned with the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo Accord between 1994 and 2000, without obtaining the regular ‘green’ Palestinian identity card. They were rather offered the ‘zeroed passport’ by the Refugees’ Affairs Department of the PLO, an unofficial document that is supposed to ease their living.

Trump’s Peace Plan Has Been Designed to Fail – Exactly Like Its Predecessors

By Jonathan Cook

July 01, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –   Donald Trump’s supposed “deal of the century”, offering the Palestinians economic bribes in return for political submission, is the endgame of western peace-making, the real goal of which has been failure, not success.

For decades, peace plans have made impossible demands of the Palestinians, forcing them to reject the terms on offer and thereby create a pretext for Israel to seize more of their homeland.

The more they have compromised, the further the diplomatic horizon has moved away – to the point now that the Trump administration expects them to forfeit any hope of statehood or a right to self-determination.

Even Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and architect of the peace plan, cannot really believe the Palestinians will be bought off with their share of the $50 billion inducement he hoped to raise in Bahrain last week.

That was why the Palestinian leadership stayed away.

But Israel’s image managers long ago coined a slogan to obscure a policy of incremental dispossession, masquerading as a peace process: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

It is worth examining what those landmark “missed opportunities” consisted of.

The first was the United Nations’ Partition Plan of late 1947. In Israel’s telling, it was Palestinian intransigence over dividing the land into separate Jewish and Arab states that triggered war, leading to the creation of a Jewish state on the ruins of most of the Palestinians’ homeland.

But the real story is rather different.

The recently formed UN was effectively under the thumb of the imperial powers of Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union. All three wanted a Jewish state as a dependent ally in the Arab-dominated Middle East.

Fuelled by the dying embers of western colonialism, the Partition Plan offered the largest slice of the Palestinian homeland to a minority population of European Jews, whose recent immigration had been effectively sponsored by the British empire.

As native peoples elsewhere were being offered independence, Palestinians were required to hand over 56 per cent of their land to these new arrivals. There was no chance such terms would be accepted.

However, as Israeli scholars have noted, the Zionist leadership had no intention of abiding by the UN plan either. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father, called the Jewish state proposed by the UN “tiny”. He warned that it could never accommodate the millions of Jewish immigrants he needed to attract if his new state was not rapidly to become a second Arab state because of higher Palestinian birth rates.

Ben Gurion wanted the Palestinians to reject the plan, so that he could use war as a chance to seize 78 per cent of Palestine and drive out most of the native population.

For decades, Israel was happy to entrench and, after 1967, expand its hold on historic Palestine.

In fact, it was Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who made the biggest, unreciprocated concessions to peace. In 1988, he recognised Israel and, later, in the 1993 Olso accords, he accepted the principle of partition on even more dismal terms than the UN’s – a state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine.

Even so, the Oslo process stood no serious chance of success after Israel refused to make promised withdrawals from the occupied territories. Finally, in 2000 President Bill Clinton called together Arafat and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to a peace summit at Camp David.

Arafat knew Israel was unwilling to make any meaningful compromises and had to be bullied and cajoled into attending. Clinton promised the Palestinian leader he would not be blamed if the talks failed.

Israel ensured they did. According to his own advisers, Barak “blew up” the negotiations, insisting that Israel hold on to occupied East Jerusalem, including the Al Aqsa mosque, and large areas of the West Bank. Washington blamed Arafat anyway, and refashioned Israel’s intransigence as a “generous offer”.

A short time later, in 2002, Saudi Arabia’s Peace Initiative offered Israel normal relations with the Arab world in return for a minimal Palestinian state. Israel and western leaders hurriedly shunted it into the annals of forgotten history.

After Arafat’s death, secret talks through 2008-09 – revealed in the Palestine Papers leak – showed the Palestinians making unprecedented concessions. They included allowing Israel to annex large tracts of East Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ expected capital.

Negotiator Saeb Erekat was recorded saying he had agreed to “the biggest [Jerusalem] in Jewish history” as well as to only a “symbolic number of [Palestinian] refugees’ return [and a] demilitarised state … What more can I give?”

It was a good question. Tzipi Livni, Israel’s negotiator, responded, “I really appreciate it” when she saw how much the Palestinians were conceding. But still her delegation walked away.

Trump’s own doomed plan follows in the footsteps of such “peace-making”.

In a New York Times commentary last week Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, candidly encapsulated the thrust of this decades-long diplomatic approach. He called on the Palestinians to “surrender”, adding: “Surrender is the recognition that in a contest, staying the course will prove costlier than submission.”

The peace process was always leading to this moment. Trump has simply cut through the evasions and equivocations of the past to reveal where the West’s priorities truly lie.

It is hard to believe that Trump or Kushner ever believed the Palestinians would accept a promise of “money for quiet” in place of a state based on “land for peace”.

Once more, the West is trying to foist on the Palestinians an inequitable peace deal. The one certainty is that they will reject it – it is the only issue on which the Fatah and Hamas leaderships are united – again ensuring the Palestinians can be painted as the obstacle to progress.

The Palestinians may have refused this time to stumble into the trap, but they will find themselves the fall guys, whatever happens.

When Trump’s plan crashes, as it will, Washington will have the chance to exploit a supposed Palestinian rejection as justification for approving annexation by Israel of yet more tranches of occupied territory.

The Palestinans will be left with a shattered homeland. No self-determination, no viable state, no independent economy, just a series of aid-dependent ghettos. And decades of western diplomacy will finally have arrived at its preordained destination.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

Trump Admin Dangles $50Bn Bribe for Palestinian Surrender

Image result for Trump Admin Dangles $50Bn Bribe for Palestinian Surrender
Finian Cunningham
July 3, 2019

President Trump’s senior aide on Mideast affairs Jared Kushner tried last week to sell his much-vaunted “deal of the century” for a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement. The core of it was a purported foreign investment plan worth $50 billion.

The sales pitch made at a conference in Bahrain amounted to a $50Bn bribe dangled at the Palestinians to accept permanent illegal occupation of their ancestral lands in exchange for foreign investment. Kushner rebranded it as the “opportunity of the century”.

He claimed that political peace depends on a viable economic plan. Others would see that formulation as back-to-front: economic development and prosperity depends on a political solution to decades of injustice against Palestinians.

American diplomacy has been an utter failure for decades with regard to settling this bitter dispute. It would therefore be impossibly naive to expect the Trump administration to succeed. More likely, its blundering and bias will only make this historic problem a whole lot worse.

That’s no doubt why so many regional players decided to give the Bahrain event this week a clunking big miss.

Like his father-in-law in the White House, Kushner comes from a real estate background before Trump appointed him as his top aide on the Palestinian-Israeli issue. For the past two years, Kushner has been working on a “master plan” to end the eight-decade-old conflict. That conflict has been at the center of most other disputes and tensions in the region. Trump has billed his son-in-law’s peace plan as the “deal of the century”.

In Bahrain, the Trump administration gave the first-ever preview of its peace plans. Skeptics of Kushner’s ability to deliver a realistic, workable framework were not to be surprised. The boyish-looking Kushner looked way out of his depth as he presented his vision of business and investment as the supposed key to peace. He invited the audience to “imagine” Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza bustling with enterprise and trade. That entrepreneurial “promised land” would arrive if the Palestinians accepted Kushner’s vision of a $50Bn foreign investor fund.

What that boils down to is Palestinians accepting the present status quo of illegal occupation by Israel and in effect surrendering their historic claims for sovereign statehood. Moreover, the $5oBn in investments that Kushner was swooning about are not existing funds. They are only promises of potential investment, which may never actually be delivered.

Nowhere in the Trump administration’s “deal of the century” is there any attempt to redress historical violations of Palestinian national rights. There is no mention of the right of return of millions of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 war that established the sate of Israel. Nor of returning land annexed during the 1967 war. Illegal occupation is merely a fact on the ground that needs to be officially recognized as Israeli territory, according to the Trump administration. In the same way that Trump earlier this year officially recognized the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Kushner’s bias in a supposedly peace mediator role is flagrant. He is Jewish and a family friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Kushner’s wife, Ivanka, Trump’s daughter, is a convert to Judaism. Last year, she personally unveiled the controversial new American embassy in Jerusalem, which Trump had promised to Netanyahu on his election in 2016 in recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. That move was seen by Palestinians as a betrayal of their historic claim to East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

During the past two years, the Trump administration has cut off development aid and diplomatic links with Palestinian authorities. Respected Palestinian negotiators like veteran envoy Hanan Ashrawi have been denied travel visas to the US. The consultation conducted by Kushner with the Palestinian side in formulating his peace plan has been minimal.

During a recent interview in the US, Kushner revealed his colonial-type mindset when he asserted that the “Palestinians were not ready yet for self-government”. In other words, in this supposed mediator’s view, he is saying that there will be no foreseeable state of Palestine. That is, the Palestinians must accept their inferior status as an occupied people while the state of Israel is permitted to continue annexing more and more of their ancestral land. Indeed, Kushner is believed to have personal business investments in the construction of new Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

It’s no wonder then than his so-called “deal of the century” amounts to a shallow business plan bereft of any deep historical, political issues. Palestinians are expected to shut up and surrender their historic rights for statehood by accepting a quixotic vision of economic wonders descending on them while living under permanent marginalization and deprivation. A UN report last year found that Gaza will no longer be habitable in a few years due to water and power shortages.

The Trump-Kushner proposal is the sort of con job that real estate agents excel at. Everything is reduced to the value of money while prospects are talked up with the most ludicrous glamor. Unscrupulous real estate agents would have the temerity to sell a cardboard box as if it were a penthouse suite. Trump and his son-in-law would seem to be of that same wheeler-dealer ilk.

After two years of bragging about its big Middle East “vision”, what people saw this week was little more than a glossy brochure of hype over historical realities. Indeed, it would seem that the purpose of the hype is to bury the hard historical problems that underly the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The excessive emphasis on billions of dollars of investment by Kushner is an attempt to seduce Palestinians into relinquishing their political and moral rights.

This week, however, while the Trump administration was making its sales pitch in Bahrain, it was notable that there was no Palestinian delegation present. All across the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians shut their businesses in protest and took to the streets to burn effigies of the “deal of the century”.

Israeli government representatives were also not in attendance. That was only after the White House belatedly pulled their invitations in the weeks before the Bahrain conference took place. No doubt that hasty move by the White House was meant to minimize the embarrassing spectacle of a Palestinian boycott by also not having an official Israeli delegation.

Russia and China also gave the Kushner presentation a miss. Some Arab countries, such as Iraq and Lebanon, did not attend either. Iran, a major regional player and supporter of the Palestinian cause, was not represented. The European Union sent only technical-level officials; EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was not present.

The glaring absences reflect the lack of international credibility of this White House’s peace efforts for the Middle East. The “deal of the century” is more seen as the “con of the century”.

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Netherlands recognizes Gaza, West Bank as official Palestinian birthplaces

This undated photo shows Palestinian protesters demonstrating in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

This undated photo shows Palestinian protesters demonstrating in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

Authorities in the Netherlands have allowed Palestinians living in the country to register the besieged Gaza Strip and the West Bank as their official places of birth, instead of registering under such designations as ‘the Israeli-occupied territories’ or ‘unknown’.

Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops, in a letter addressed to the House of Representatives in The Hague on Sunday, stated that he intends to add Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, to a list of official states used by the Dutch civil registry.

Knops added that the new category is in accordance with “the Dutch viewpoint that Israel has no sovereignty over these areas.”

The Dutch minister further highlighted that the new category was named based on the Oslo Accords and the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Dutch news outlets reported that the new category will be available to Palestinians born after May 15, 1948, when Israeli forces displaced some 700,000 Palestinians, forcing them to flee to different neighboring countries. Israeli soldiers also wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map, leaving an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants dreaming of an eventual return to their ancestral homeland more than six decades later.

The Israeli-occupied land was the only birthplace available to Palestinians registering in the Netherlands up until 2014. The category “unknown,” also known as code “0000,” was made available to Palestinians living in the country after opposition to listing Israel as their birthplace.

While the UN General Assembly and at least 136 countries have recognized Palestine as a sovereign state, the Netherlands has refused to do so.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.

The Palestinian people’s principal problem is their own leadership

Abbas at the UN

September 27, 2018

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ address to the UN General Assembly was disappointing. It repeated the same phrases used in his last eight speeches. Nothing new at all. The same appeals for international sympathy. Even the wording of his complaints about Israel’s failure to respect agreements was unchanged. And his declaration that the US is not an honest broker but biased towards Israel we have heard a million times before.

So it was neither strange nor surprising that the chamber was almost empty of delegates and delegation heads, and that the warm applause came mostly from the Palestinian delegation.

US President Donald Trump will not heed Abbas’ demands that he rescind his recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Nor will East Jerusalem be capital of a Palestinian state, because there will be no Palestinian state at all. Not according to the US’ ‘Deal of the Century’, which has rapidly begun entering the implementation stage – with US support, the collusion of some Arabs, and Palestinian security coordination.

***

The US and Israel will not fret about Abbas’ threats regarding their non-compliance with the agreements signed with them. Nor will that arouse the sympathy of UN member-sates. So long as he continues talking Mother Theresa-like about peace, renouncing violence, and joining the fight against terrorism in any part of the world – as he affirmed in his speech – nobody will listen to him or take him seriously.

It was regrettable that the Palestinian president used the UN podium to discuss the agreements he signed with the Hamas movement and threaten not to abide by them. That is the only one of his threats he will actually carry out: to cut off what remains of the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s aid to the Gaza Strip. This amounts to around $90 million in electricity subsidies and salaries, the vast majority of which go to members of Fateh, the PA’s party. Is this the place to make such threats? Does the world benefit from hearing them?

The international community will not thank Abbas for promising not to resort to violence or revert to ‘terrorism” i.e. legitimate resistance to occupation. How could such thanks be forthcoming from UN delegates when so many of their countries gained their freedom through resistance, not by imploring and lamenting the loss of their rights at international forums.

Abbas has been saying for the past ten years or so that peaceful popular resistance is the only option. We ask:

Where is this resistance? Why do the PA’s security forces repress all political activists and throw them in jail, or inform on them to the occupation authorities to facilitate their arrest?  Enough lies and deception, please. Respect your people’s intelligence, and their martyrs and prisoners.

***

We ask President Abbas:

Why did the US administration cut off all aid to schools, hospitals, PA institutions and UNRWA, while increasing its aid to the Palestinian security forces, at a time when he announced a boycott of any meeting or dialogue with the US? What good did this boycott do in this case?

The fault does not lie with UN, the US, or Israel. It lies with President Abbas, his leadership and administration, his Authority, his security coordination, and his speechwriters and cheerleaders.

When Palestinian leaders chose the course of resistance and sacrifice, the US and Israel and the West in its entirety sought to meet and negotiate with them, recognized them, and feared them.

This farce needs to be ended at once, and the actors stripped of their masks. It has gone too far, and the Palestinian people, both in the homeland and the diaspora, must not remain silent about this situation.

NYT: Trump’s Twitter Threats Put US Credibility on the Line

08-01-2018 | 13:24


US President Donald Trump has begun 2018 where he left off. Since the first of the year, he has attacked a variety of countries in Twitter posts, urging protesters to overthrow the Iranian government, threatening to blow up North Korea and calling for cuts in aid to the Palestinians.

Us President Donald Trump

Two things stand out about the foreign policy messages Trump has posted on Twitter since taking office: How far they veer from the traditional ways American presidents express themselves, let alone handle diplomacy. And how rarely Trump has followed through on his words.

Indeed, nearly a year after he entered the White House, the rest of the world is trying to figure out whether Trump is more mouth than fist, more paper tiger than the real thing.

Countries are unsure whether to take his words as policy pronouncements, or whether they can be safely ignored. If Trump’s threats are seen as hollow, what does that do to American credibility?

In a series of Twitter posts on Saturday, Trump reacted to questions about his mental fitness by calling himself a “very stable genius.”

Even if there is a recognition that Trump’s tweets may be largely intended to let off steam or reassure his domestic base, there is an increasing sense that the credibility of the administration, and the presidency itself, is being eroded.

However, Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said the words of the US president matter, he added in a Twitter message: “That is why so many of this president’s tweets alarm. The issue is not just questionable policy on occasion but questionable judgment and discipline.”

The bottom line, Haass said, is that Twitter posts should be handled as seriously as any other White House statement, lest the currency of what the president says comes to be devalued.

But the Twitter posts have already devalued the president’s words, argues R. Nicholas Burns, a former career diplomat and ambassador to NATO.

“Even when Mr. Trump is right, … there’s always some excess or some objectionable statement that undermines American credibility, and it’s hard to win that back,” he said. “Allies and opponents invest in your judgment and common sense.”

He pointed to Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds [Jerusalem], however delayed or symbolic. That broke with years of international policy consensus, which called for the status of al-Quds to be settled in so-called “peace” talks.

“When you give away the status of Jerusalem [al-Quds] unilaterally and get nothing from ‘Israel’ and anger the Palestinians and challenge the world and then you lose, it’s a disastrous example of lack of US credibility,” Burns said.

The decision infuriated the Palestinians and the Europeans. Then, Trump and his United Nations envoy, Nikki R. Haley, threatened to cut off aid to any country that opposed the new US position in a vote in the General Assembly.

In the end, the vote was a humiliating rebuke of the US, 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions. Most European allies voted against the US, and even European allies in Central Europe, who consider Washington a key guarantor against Russia, did not vote with Washington but abstained.

A senior European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly, called the al-Quds episode destabilizing and said it had come when the Middle East and the world did not need it.

As much as the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has annoyed Trump with his criticism of the al-Quds move, saying that it disqualified Washington from a serious role in any so-called “peace” talks, even the “Israeli” entity has urged Trump to abandon his threat to cut off aid to the United Nations agency that looks after millions of registered Palestinian refugees.

On North Korea, despite Trump’s Twitter posts, Pyongyang has gone ahead with tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles and has given no indication that it will agree to denuclearize in exchange for talks with Washington. Instead, it has gone around Washington to reopen talks with Seoul.

Even on Pakistan, where Trump followed through last week on threats to suspend aid over the country’s ambiguous support for the American battle against the Taliban, the president was for the Pakistanis before he was against them.

In one of his first calls with a foreign leader after being elected, Trump spoke with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and gushed that he was a “terrific guy.”

“Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people,” Sharif’s office said in a statement describing the call. “Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people.”

More recently, Trump switched to threatening them, saying on Twitter that Pakistan had “given us nothing but lies & deceit” and accusing it of providing “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

The public humiliation outraged Islamabad, giving an opening to China, which moved within 24 hours to praise Pakistan’s fight against terrorism. Pakistan then agreed to adopt the Chinese currency for transactions, to improve bilateral trade.

François Heisbourg, a French defense and security analyst, commented tersely about Trump’s anger this way: “Pushing Pakistan into an exclusive relationship with China.”

Trump has been equally changeable with the Chinese, whom the president repeatedly threatened to punish for what he termed trade dumping and currency manipulation, only to say in December that he had “been soft” on Beijing, needing its help on North Korea.

Some suggest that Trump’s Twitter posts should not be taken so seriously. Daniel S. Hamilton, a former State Department official who directs the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University, said that Trump “uses these tweets and social media to secure his political base,” and “whether the tweets turn into a policy or not is a whole different question.”

While allies do not necessarily take his Twitter posts as policy pronouncements, they still create significant confusion, said Pierre Vimont, former French ambassador to Washington and former top aide to the European Union foreign policy chief.

Even in areas where allies agree – for example, on the threat posed by North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un – “we have a hard time understanding the real policy line from Washington,” Mr. Vimont said.

Source: NYT, Edited by website team

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