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Editorial: U.S. is responsible for stability in Middle East

U.S. President Donald Trump needs to wake up to his responsibility for the bloodshed in Palestine ignited by his relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. We urge him to return to his leadership role in the international community and work for stability in the Middle East.

 

It has been only slightly less than half a year since President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the end of last year and announced he would relocate the embassy. His move to use the consulate facilities in Jerusalem as a temporary embassy is likely aimed at quickly creating a fait accompli. He was probably thinking of the November midterm elections.

 

Some past U.S. presidents have also, like Trump, made campaign pledges to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel with an eye to securing the support of the Jewish community and the Christian right, but they all shelved the idea once they took office. The main reason was that relocating the embassy would be an obstacle to mediating peace in the Middle East.

 

Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, attended the dedication ceremony for the embassy. “The President keeps his promises,” he said proudly. What does he think about the many Palestinians who lost their lives in the protests against the relocation?

 

Jerusalem is considered holy not only by Jews but also by Christians and Muslims. The state of Israel regards the city as the “eternal capital.” Meanwhile, Palestine regards it as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The international community has advocated that the status of Jerusalem be decided through talks among the parties.

 

By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocating the U.S. embassy there, the United States has done the equivalent of relinquishing its role as intermediary in Middle East peace. Trump should change his unilateral favoring of Israel and return to the traditional policy of a “two-state solution,” where Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace.

 

The shale gas revolution has reduced the importance of the Middle East in U.S. diplomatic and security policy. With this, the United States has pulled back, and this has brought about turmoil in the Middle East region.

 

What accelerated this movement is President Trump’s inward-looking America-first policy. Russia and Iran have taken advantage of the vacuum resulting from the U.S. “exit.”

 

Moreover, the U.S. relocation of its embassy and its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement – another decision it has taken – are fueling antagonism and animosity between religious and ethnic groups. The Middle East could become a “powder keg.”

 

Trump has publicly announced he wants to disengage from the Middle East. This is unparalleled irresponsibility.

 

Japan depends on Middle East imports for most of its oil, so stability in the Middle East is critical for Japan as well. We should appeal to America to come to its senses.

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