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Trump policy could destabilize Middle East

December 12, 2017 GMT

President Donald Trump’s recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an unwise and unnecessary provocation.

The president’s dramatic policy shift on Jerusalem has angered Arabs and Muslims who view it as an expression of blatant pro-Israel bias by the United States.

Trump is throwing a political hand grenade at one of the Middle East’s most explosive religious and political disputes.

The Israeli-annexed eastern sector Jerusalem is sought by the Palestinians as a future capital in a future state.

The United States had professed neutrality on the fate of Jerusalem for decades. This policy was in line with an international consensus that the fate of Jerusalem should be determined in negotiations.

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The policy shift has triggered widespread international condemnation, including from U.S. allies.

The U.S. shift could further destabilize the region.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the U.S. decision “will further complicate the peace process and pose an additional challenge to the stability of the whole region.”

The Algerian government denounced the decision as threatening efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace and stability in the region.

Since Trump’s announcement of the policy shift, Palestinians have clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank and Gaza, and Muslim worshippers from Jordan to Indonesia have poured into the streets to protest. Protesters have burned Israeli and U.S. flags or stomped on Trump posters in displays of anger.

Trump had promised to make such a decision during the campaign. Still, there was no urgent or compelling reason for the dramatic shift policy. Trump is playing politics with an emotionally-charged and difficult issue that possibly could derail any chance for peace in the Middle East.