In an interview with I24news, Middle East Forum Director Gregg Roman called President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and establish the American embassy there "a confident, bold move" likely to facilitate "real discussions" about an Israel-Palestinian peace settlement.
According to Roman, moving the U.S. embassy to West Jerusalem – Israeli territory inside the 1949 armistice lines that Palestinian negotiators assure Washington they no longer contest – serves as a litmus test of sorts. "He's called them out on their bluff, going back all the way to 1988, when they started their diplomatic track with the Israelis."
Trump's decision forces the Palestinians to make a binary choice. "He cast the dice purely in the Palestinians' corner. They have two options to respond: One, with ignorance and violence, or two, with openness and diplomacy," said Roman.
"It was a confident, bold move by the president."
Roman dismissed widespread criticism of the decision around the world, suggesting that it will actually pave the way for broader recognition of Israel's capital in Jerusalem. "We see other countries, like the Philippines and the Czech Republic, following suit only 24 hours after his announcement."
Although Arab countries have denounced the decision, they have little strategic interest in challenging it. "They have to play it to their domestic populace, and they have to condemn this. But if you look at the bigger specter that's hanging over them, whether it's Iran's proxies in the south of Yemen, or to the north in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, they are playing the long game here," said Roman. "Let's move into the next few months and see where their real priority is – on the Iranian threat, not on what the United States is doing with its diplomatic mission."