US President Donald J. Trump’s waiver delaying the relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem accomplishes two things.
First, it disappoints many Israelis for failing to fulfill his pre-election promise. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it has sent precisely the wrong message to the Palestinians. What the Palestinians and other Arabs heard in this message is that the US president folds under pressure and threats.
This message of weakness and retreat harms not only Trump’s credibility, but also that of the US by making it appear a country that caves under threats of violence.
In general, it is Trump’s presentation of power that garners respect among many Palestinians and Arabs. The Arabs admire and respect such figures because they have been ruled for decades by ruthless tyrants and dictators such as Saddam Hussein. But the Arabs also respect leaders who keep their promises, even if they disagree with and oppose those promises.
Trump’s decision to delay the relocation of the US embassy came after repeated threats by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and some Arabs that such a move would “plunge the entire region into violence and bloodshed.” These threats began during Trump’s election campaign and escalated after he entered the White House.
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