Home/Daniel Larison/Don’t Move the Embassy to Jerusalem

Don’t Move the Embassy to Jerusalem

Screengrab: Trump speaks before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Trump reaffirmed his interest in relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The move still makes no sense:

“I don’t know what’s in it for Trump,” said Akiva Eldar, a longtime Israeli columnist and co-author of a book on the issue of moving the embassy. Mr. Eldar’s thesis was that this was largely a concern for American politicians, not Israelis or Palestinians — and even within the United States, it was not generally advocated by those with experience on the ground [bold mine-DL].

“If you talk to serious people, if you ask the secret service, they say don’t do it,” Mr. Eldar noted. “They don’t think it’s worth it. Everything is so fragile right now.”

Except as a sop to his hard-line “pro-Israel” supporters and advisers, I can’t quite figure out what Trump gets out of doing this, either. It gains the U.S. nothing but problems, and whatever symbolic value it has for Israel will quickly be outweighed by the costs. Moving the embassy would incur significant diplomatic costs for the U.S. and Israel, and it risks triggering violence against American and Israeli targets there and elsewhere in the world. If he really did this, it would mean that Trump would be starting off his presidency with a major blunder and self-inflicted wound that would sour his dealings with most other regional governments. He would potentially be precipitating a crisis that might lead to loss of life, and he would be widely blamed for the results. It would not only signal to the world that the new administration is incompetent when it comes to foreign policy, but also that its foreign policy decisions are being heavily influenced by ideologues without regard for real-world consequences.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment