According to a new Washington Post report, Donald Trump does not fully understand the implications of his decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there. This isn’t particularly surprising for a man who does not fully understand literally anything, up to and including how to keep his teeth from falling out of his mouth.
Most of the international community considers East Jerusalem occupied territory, and Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state; any two-state solution would be likely necessitate the division of the city. Israel already considers all of Jerusalem its capital, but Trump echoing this means the United States is siding definitively with Israel (where Prime Minister Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing coalition has bulldozed any remaining, if distant, possibility of a two-state solution, in part by allowing illegal Israeli settlements to be built in Palestinian territory).
Indeed, Trump’s desperate, primal need to feel exceptional has manifested itself once again in an international crisis, with Hamas calling for a renewed intifada and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim describing the decision as “pulling the pin of a grenade.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the U.S. could no longer be a fair mediator in the peace process (something that has arguably been true for a while), and Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat declared that Trump “destroyed any possibility of a two-state [solution].” Protests have erupted, and the Washington Post reports that IDF soldiers fired allegedly non-lethal “sponge bullets”—which can kill or severely injure people—at children who were throwing stones.
The president has surely not thought about any of this. It’s also safe to say that he has not thought about much of anything at all, his brain being the equivalent of a radioactive tumbleweed meandering through the desert.
“What he said to me was, ‘I’m going to do it. Every other president has promised, and all of them didn’t keep their promises,’” Alan Dershowitz told the Washington Post. Donald Trump, a big boy, does keep his promises. The Post reports that Mike Pence and Jared Kushner lobbied in favor of the decision, while Defense Secretary Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson reportedly argued against it.
From the Post, here is a collection of words that may give you some light heartburn:
“It’s insane. We’re all resistant,” said one Trump confidant who recently spoke to the president about it. “He doesn’t realize what all he could trigger by doing this.”
While Trump appeared to have made up his mind, he continued to solicit input, two White House officials said, even asking random acquaintances about the Middle East in recent months.
Several advisers said he did not seem to have a full understanding of the issue and instead appeared to be focused on “seeming pro-Israel,” in the words of one, and “making a deal,” in the words of another.
Once Trump indicated 10 days ago that he would not sign a second waiver, national security adviser H.R. McMaster began putting together options that officials assessed would result in the least damage.
The debate came to a head at a White House meeting Nov. 27 to hash out the waiver issue. According to people briefed on the meeting, Trump repeated his earlier assertions that he had to follow through on his campaign pledge, seemingly irritated by objections over security and the break with previous policy.
“The decision wasn’t driven by the peace process,” one senior official said. “The decision was driven by his campaign promise.”
Ahhhhh! Say it with me: ahhhhhhhhhh!
Meanwhile, Trump has signed another waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for now, because according to White House officials, it will, rather conveniently, take several years to actually build a new embassy in Jerusalem.