Fallout from Trump’s Jerusalem decision could be dangerous, experts warn

President Donald Trump’s decision to buck decades of foreign policy directives by announcing the U.S. will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem did not come as a surprise to a number of foreign policy experts.

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It did, however, leave them with a number of questions.

“He obviously made the decision because he made a commitment during the campaign,” said Dennis Ross, a previous ambassador to Israel appointed by former President George H.W. Bush and Middle East envoy under former President Bill Clinton.

Ross also noted that Trump’s decision was likely also influenced by his distaste for the waivers that presidents have signed citing national security concerns as the reason to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv.

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images
A municipal employee hangs an American flag next to the U.S. Consulate on Dec. 6, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel.

Trump noted, in his address at the White House today when he announced the move, how “presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace…. Nevertheless, the record is in.

“After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result,” Trump continued.

Ross said that Trump’s announcement doesn’t appear to be — at least publicly — part of a much larger, organized step toward a peace plan.

“I think the reality is that this was a move that probably was surprising to many within the administration,” Ross said.

Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
A picture taken on Jan. 20, 2017 shows the exterior of the U.S. Embassy building in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv.

“This is the kind of thing that had the administration spent time preparing this with the Arabs … they might well have been able to work something out,” Ross said, noting that because that didn’t happen, today’s move “leaves these Arab partners on the defensive.”

Elliott Abrams, who served as deputy national security adviser to former President George W. Bush and was a vocal critic of Trump during the campaign, calls the move “long overdue and the proper decision.”

“I think the president is likely saying threats of violence are not…

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