President Trump has taken two unprecedented steps highly favorable to Israel: recognizing Jerusalem as its capital and cutting funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an organization ultimately devoted to eliminating the Jewish state. These long-overdue actions break antique logjams dating back nearly 70 years and offer fresh opportunities to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Bravo to Mr. Trump for enduring the slings and arrows of conventional thinking to take and then stick with these courageous steps.
However, there’s a problem. Both moves were undertaken for what appear to be the wrong reasons. This is not an abstract worry but implies that today’s celebration could turn into tomorrow’s fiasco.
First problem for Israel: Mr. Trump says he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to settle the Jerusalem issue. Listen to him ruminate on this: “The hardest subject [Israeli and Palestinian negotiators] had to talk about was Jerusalem. We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. They never got past Jerusalem.”
This suggests Mr. Trump thinks recognition solved the knotty Jerusalem issue, as though this were a New York real-estate transaction and he made a side-deal about zoning regulations or union representation. But it’s not. Far from being “off the table,” Mr. Trump’s action made Jerusalem an unprecedented center of attention and contention.