Balance of Power: Trump May Make Good on Jerusalem PromiseBy
U.S. President Donald Trump appears to be seriously considering recognizing contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a step that risks enraging Arab opinion.
Trump may signal his intent today when he’s due to decide whether to renew his signature on a waiver to keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, as he did six months ago. He could announce a decision on recognizing Jerusalem as early as Wednesday, Axios reported.
Israel captured the city’s eastern sector — claimed by the Palestinians as the capital of a future state — in the 1967 Middle East war and in effect annexed it. The rest of the world doesn’t recognize the de facto annexation, nor regard Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
While Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said yesterday he didn’t want to preempt the president’s decision, White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said moving the embassy to the holy city would create “momentum” to broker peace in the Middle East.
Some regional players see potential peril in bringing the long-dormant issue back to center stage, with Palestinian and other Arab leaders warning that violence may erupt if Trump makes the move.
Mueller v. Trump | The president’s bid to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia meddling probe kicked into overdrive this weekend after former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying the FBI. Flynn is now cooperating with investigators, amid hints that Mueller may be pursuing a more serious case against Trump himself.
Trump emboldened | Buoyed by Senate passage of his tax overhaul proposal, Trump told donors in New York on Saturday that he'll be “unbeatable” in 2020. The president’s confidence sets the tone for a potential partisan showdown this week over government funding, which expires Friday. Trump has said he wants Congress to fund his Mexican border wall (which Democrats oppose), while Democrats have said any spending measure must include protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
No Brexit deal — yet | U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is hoping to seal a Brexit deal over a meal in Brussels with key European counterparts, but there are signs the two sides aren’t quite there yet. While the Brits have offered more money toward the so-called divorce bill, the Irish remain unsatisfied over the issue of Northern Ireland’s border and how the U.K. plans keep it open. Lunch will be served around 1 p.m. in Brussels, but there may be nothing to toast at the end of it.
Fighter jets and fighting words | North Korea pledged to unleash the “highest-level hard-line countermeasure in history” after the U.S. and South Korea deployed advanced F-22 and F-35 fighters in one of their largest-ever aerial drills. The 230-plane exercises came after Kim Jong Un tested a new missile last week believed capable of reaching any U.S. city. As tensions rise, Germany is offering its enduring embassy links with Pyongyang as a conduit to keep diplomacy alive.
India’s battlegrounds | As Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads into a crucial set of elections, India’s powerful states might help him push through divisive land and labor law overhauls. The first installment of our three-part series looks at how Modi’s control over local governments that represent 60 cents of every dollar produced by India is letting him bypass a recalcitrant upper house while spurring interstate competition.
And finally... Russia’s billionaires — not usually known as worrying types — are fretting over a clause in the U.S. sanctions law passed this summer that could target them with visa bans and asset freezes in punishment for alleged Kremlin election meddling. Lawyers say there’s not much they can do to avoid being put on a U.S. Treasury list of oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin, but as Henry Meyer and Irina Reznik report, some are trying to limit their exposure at Kremlin events in the hope of seeming less close to the center of power.
— With assistance by Kathleen Hunter, Brendan Scott, and Gregory White