Trump: staunch backer of Israel in Middle East process

Published March 23, 2019, 7:27 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

From the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to his position on the disputed Golan Heights, US President Donald Trump has been an unfailing ally of the Jewish state.

US President Donald Trump stepped up his criticism of internet platforms during a White House news conference with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro (AFP Photo/Jim WATSON / MANILA BULLETIN)
US President Donald Trump  (AFP Photo/Jim WATSON / MANILA BULLETIN)

Many of his controversial moves since taking office have outraged Palestinians, who have reacted by rejecting Washington’s role in the peace process.

Here is a recap:

First break with Palestinians
In February 2017, welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, Trump says a two-state solution is not the only option to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adding he would back a single state if it led to peace.

In March Trump’s special representative Jason Greenblatt meets in Jerusalem representatives of Israeli settlers.

Later that month new US ambassador, Nikki Haley, promises an end to bias against Israel at the United Nations.

At the Western Wall
In May 2017, the new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a Jew close to Trump, presents his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

Friedman, a strong supporter of Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank, had in the past advocated moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a departure from decades of international consensus that the city’s status should be settled through negotiations.

On May 22 and 23 Trump calls on Israelis and Palestinians to take difficult decisions for peace, after meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the occupied West Bank.

Trump becomes the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

In December 2017 Trump says “it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”, effectively ignoring Palestinian claims on the Holy City and breaking with previous US policy.

Outraged, the Palestinians cut all contact with the American administration. Abbas says the US can no longer play its historic role as mediator of peace talks with the Israelis.

On January 25, 2018, Trump accuses Palestinians of disrespecting the US after it snubbed Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the Middle East.

Embassy moves to Jerusalem
The US embassy is officially transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, a day marked by clashes in the Gaza Strip, where about 60 Palestinian protesters are killed by Israeli fire.

In August the US says it will end all funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, a week after it axes more than $200 million in bilateral aid for Gaza and the West Bank.

In September, the Trump administration announces it is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington, accusing the Palestinians of refusing to negotiate peace with Israel. The office was the Palestinian Authority’s de facto embassy in the United States.

On March 4, 2019 the US downgrades its diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, by closing its Jerusalem consulate general that had acted independently and served as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians.

 Golan Heights
On March 21 Trump says he is in favour of recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Israel conquered from Syria a large part of the Golan Heights in 1967, annexing the section it controlled in 1981, a move never recognised internationally.

Trump tweets that “after 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognise Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” comments hailed by Netanyahu.

On March 22, Syria and Arab nations denounce Trump’s position.