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Is Trump helping or harming Israel?

September 5, 2019 at 9:46 am

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House 5 March, 2018 in Washington, DC [Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images]

Many believe United States President Donald Trump is helping Israel in an unprecedented way and the son of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu, Yair, is one of them. Last June he described Trump as “Rockstar in Israel” and “the best friend that Israel and the Jewish people have ever had in the White House.” While Newsmax’s Wayne Allyan Root, a Trump supporter, likened the Republican president to “the greatest president For Israel…and Jews love him like he’s the King Of Israel.” Happy with the compliment, President Trump retweeted Root’s words after thanking him.

But is Donald Trump really helping Israel or is he doing more harm to the Zionist state?

If we judge by his actions since he came to the White House, it appears that Donald Trump has so far done what no other US president ever contemplated before. In December 2017 he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there months later. He stopped US funding to UNRWA and, in March 2019, recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Though on the surface Trump’s actions have been seen to benefit Israel, the only immediate beneficiary is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The State of Israel is the only long-term loser. Netanyahu, facing corruption charges. Should he win the next election scheduled for 17 September, he will only continue his extreme apartheid-like policies further jeopardising any chance of peace with the Palestinians. Given his position he desperately needs help to boost his chances of winning the election, this he received from Trump.

Netanyahu has been leading the most extreme government the Zionist state ever had. Over the decade he has been prime minister he has become the mouthpiece of the extreme right and Israeli settlers. Netanyahu has been pursuing the most degrading policies towards the Palestinians , using the harshest of measures against civilians, no matter their age. His willingness to succumb to the settlers’ and religious parties’ demands has left Israel failing to deliver on any of its obligations under international law as an occuping power. His policies have, so far, only enhanced Israel’s image as a rogue state which has total disregard for international law. And this is what Donald Trump is supporting.

The US president is helping Netanyahu do as he has, ignore and rip apart international treaties. Under his leadership the US, unliterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris pact on climate change. It is now very difficult for other countries to trust the US because it is ready to renege on internationally accepted agreements respected by the majority of world governments.

Domestically, it is notable how Trump has been trying to drive a wedge between the US Democratic Party and Jews in America; increasingly presenting Democrats as anti-Israel and, sometimes, anti-Semitic just because they criticise Netanyahu or his polices. In his tweets and campaign rallies Trump never misses an opportunity to tell his audience that Republicans are the real friends of Israel.

READ: UNRWA’s existence might be contested, but it is essential for Palestine refugees 

“They hate Israel & all Jewish people,” Trump tweeted in April ahead of a planned trip by Muslim Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar who were due to visit Israel as part of an official delegation.

His actions are attempts to silence free speech and equat criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism which is misleading and defaming. This makes them illegitimate.

This says a lot about Israel which keeps boasting about itself as the only flourishing democracy in the region. It simply says that democratic values, which both Trump and Netanyahu claim they cherish, are nothing but cheap talk.

While Donald Trump thinks he is helping the Zionist state, in a manner none of his predecessors ever did, he is causing long-term damage for short-term, potential, gains, for his friend Netanyahu.

While his efforts to brand the Democrats as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel have a potential to harm US democracy.

It is such rhetoric and illegitimate policies that killed his peace project – “the deal of the century”. When Trump’s advissr and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, spoke of his “deal of century” in Bahrain in June, his efforts were already undermined by no other than his father-in-law. This is directly playing to the hands of the hard right-wing and religious parties that help Netanyahu stay in power. Such parties deny the very idea that there is a Palestinian people who deserve their own state.

Instead of playing a role worthy of superpower by facilitating peace to end the ugly Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, the US under Donald Trump is indirectly undermining its own initiatives even before they are launched into full-fledged policies. In the process it is doing more harm to Israel than good.

READ: How to confront Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.