The Middle East

White House sources say Trump ‘did not fully understand’ implications of his Jerusalem decision

Trump apparently didn’t fully understand the implications of setting the Middle East on fire.

According to inside sources speaking to The Washington Post, President Trump “did not seem to have a full understanding” of the implications regarding his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. During his announcement Wednesday, Trump also revealed plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Post’s report says several advisers said Trump was more focused in putting forth a “pro-Israel” stance to please a segment of his base.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in his speech from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.

Coming out against the move was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis.

There was, however, a strong wing of support for Trump’s decision inside the White House, namely Vice President Mike Pence and adviser Jared Kushner.

From The Washington Post:

Tillerson, mindful of the death of four Americans in militant attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, “pushed back vocally,” one White House official said. Already at odds with Trump over other aspects of the president’s approach to the Middle East, Tillerson argued that the move could unleash a dangerous chain reaction across the region.

R.C. Hammond, a Tillerson adviser, said Tillerson and Mattis requested time to evaluate U.S. outposts and fortify them if necessary.

Some outside confidants, including billionaire Tom Barrack, urged Trump to hold off, worried that the move would deepen regional tensions caused by Saudi Arabia’s political shake-up and Iran’s growing reach.

“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.”

The Post’s report added:

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.

Sure enough, clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers erupted in areas across the West Bank and Gaza Strip this Thursday. Reports say the situation is under control so far with no casualties, but the big test remains for this Friday when large crowds leave their mosques after weekly prayers. The Washington Post reports that the Palestinian Authority called for a general strike in Palestinian cities, while in Gaza the Islamist Hamas goverment called on people to ignite a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel.

At least three rockets were fired from Gaza but did not reach their targets, nevertheless prompting the Israeli Defense Forces to retaliate by striking two military sites in Gaza.

Featured image via screen grab (WaPo)

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