Betraying its obvious and long-standing antagonism toward America’s ally Israel, and coddling the statehood hopes of Palestinians (along with much of the rest of the media), The New York Times reacted with alarm to the breaking news Tuesday that President Trump would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s center of government since 1948.
Reporters Mark Landler and David Halbfinger already had the talking points lined up in their Tuesday afternoon, breaking news filing, “U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, Trump Says, Alarming Middle East Leaders”:
President Trump told Israeli and Arab leaders on Tuesday that he plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a symbolically fraught move that would upend decades of American policy and upset efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mr. Trump is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday, two days after the expiration of a deadline for him to decide whether to keep the American Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The reporters wrung their hands on what the Palestinians would make of the move, and promised it would set back the peace process (that the Palestinians have shown no interest in taking seriously up to now) and perhaps lead to anti-Israel violence (as if any excuse was needed):
Still, Mr. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital -- and to set in motion an embassy move -- is his riskiest foray yet into the thicket of Middle East diplomacy. Arab and European leaders warn that it could derail any peace initiative and even ignite fresh violence in the region.
Few details of the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Abbas were released, but a P.L.O. spokesman said that the call had given shape to the worst fears of Palestinians -- that the United States would break with decades of practice and longstanding international consensus by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
But that is primarily a political problem for Mr. Trump, who promised during the 2016 campaign to move the embassy. His pledge was extremely popular with evangelicals and pro-Israel backers, including the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. They expressed frustration when Mr. Trump signed the waiver in June, keeping the embassy in Jerusalem.
Middle East experts said the administration’s argument that it could not move the embassy immediately made little sense, since all that is required is to place a sign on the existing American consulate, declaring it the embassy.
For Arab leaders, word that the United States would formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital had already caused great consternation. The symbolic statement of the embassy’s change of address, many officials warned, was actually less damaging to the peace process than changing United States policy on Jerusalem’s status.
The Times leaned heavily on “international consensus” (which presumably includes the viciously anti-Israel United Nations) to avoid having to face the argument for recognizing as the capital the city in which government in Israel takes place:
For the United States to move the embassy would break with international consensus that the status of Jerusalem remains unsettled.
Though Israel houses its parliament, president, prime minister and most ministries in Jerusalem, and Israelis overwhelmingly want the world to acknowledge the Holy City as their seat of government, the international community recognizes de facto Israeli sovereignty only in West Jerusalem.
The Times was evidently unable to find a single source besides the Trump administration and the Israeli government in support of the move. The reporters seemed reluctant to acknowledge or even hint that there can be consequences to starting a war, as the Arab world did when it tried to destroy Israel in 1967:
East Jerusalem was captured by Israeli forces during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. And the permanent status of Jerusalem as a whole, East and West, was postponed under the Oslo Accords, although Israel extended Jerusalem’s municipal borders to encompass the predominantly Arab eastern neighborhoods.