Dear Commons Community,
When I left for my trip to the Mediterranean earlier this month, a group of Republican House members were circulating a petition for Donald Trump to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. When I returned last night, the Gaza Strip was the scene again of violent protests on the part of Palestinians. These protests were fueled in part by President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. As reported by the New York Times yesterday:
“Across the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, loudspeakers on minarets urged Palestinians to rush the fence bordering Israel, where they were met by army snipers. At least 60 were killed and thousands injured, local officials said — the worst day of carnage there since Israel invaded Gaza in 2014.
Hours later, a beaming Ivanka Trump helped unveil a stone marker etched with her father’s name on the new American Embassy in Jerusalem, keeping his campaign promise to officially acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. An audience of 800 religious conservatives and right-wing politicians from both countries sang “Hallelujah.”
“What a glorious day,” exulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The two scenes, only an hour’s drive apart, illustrated the chasm dividing Israelis and Palestinians more than at any moment in recent history.
For generations, both sides of the conflict have been locked in competing, mutually negating narratives, with only sporadic flickers of hope for peace despite the efforts of a long list of presidents and secretaries of state.
Now, with the militant Hamas movement hanging on to control of Gaza, and Mr. Netanyahu backed by President Trump, neither side is even listening to the other, and the Palestinians have lumped the United States together with Israel as an overt adversary.
Responsibility for the violence on Monday rested “squarely with Hamas,” said Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, for “intentionally and cynically provoking” Israel by urging Palestinians to storm the border fence. “Israel has the right to defend itself,” he said.
In Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, deputy chief of Hamas, blamed the United States for inciting the violence by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, reversing decades of American policy and defying international consensus. “The American administration bears responsibility for all consequences following the implementation of this unjust decision,” he said.
The two sides were in equally different worlds when speaking of how the embassy opening would affect the moribund peace process.
Palestinians, who hope to see the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, see the embassy move as an abdication of any vestige of American impartiality in determining the region’s future. Since Mr. Trump announced the move in December, Palestinian leaders have flatly rejected the idea of peace talks under American auspices.”
I think Mr. Trump has just lost key votes among members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.