President Donald Trump: What it means for Jews and Israel
PRESIDENT TRUMPWhat the future holds now that he's won

President Donald Trump: What it means for Jews and Israel

What can be expected from a Trump presidency?

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

What will he do? For Jews and for Israel, it’s the billion-dollar marbled gold question.

Abroad, he will keep making a lot of noise about Iran, but he will not tear up the nuclear deal, unless there is a significant military threat to Israel, at which point he would provide all the logistical support Israel needed. To assuage critics, who remind him that he swore to ‘dismantle’ the deal, he may introduce new laws making it even more difficult for companies to deal with anything even remotely linked to an Iranian proxy, increasing the nervousness of big U.S. banks doing business in the Middle East.

His friendship with Russia means that, if he does decide to support a two-state push, he may give Vladimir Putin the nod to hold talks in Moscow. Putin and Trump would then share in the glory if it came off, which it won’t.

Before 2017 ends, there will be a high-profile presidential visit to the Holy Land, with big smiles all round, as he ‘brings Bibi back in from the cold.’

But if President Trump does decide to move the American embassy to Jerusalem (something his Republican presidential predecessor George W. Bush and three other past presidents have all balked at), he will likely do this in the first two years of his first term, or not at all. Odds are that he won’t, but this is no certainty – American Jews will remind him of his promise, and if he is not personally invested in hammering out a peace deal (he isn’t), it does make it easier.

Instead, he is far more likely to support laws making Palestinian aid conditional on educational reform in the Palestinian territories, insisting on the complete withdrawal of any reference to Palestinian fighters as heroes.

On military aid to Israel, the man who refuses to pay contractors is unlikely to increase the $38 billion ten-year deal recently signed by Israel and the U.S. (if he were, Israeli negotiators would have held out for a Trump win). But he would definitely be receptive to one-off military funding requests, providing the arms were bought from American companies. An Israeli scrap with Hezbollah would be motive enough.

Trump’s top diplomat – the man flying round the world, cutting deals, speaking truth to power, advancing the White House agenda – is likely to be former Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose own presidential campaign last time round was bankrolled by Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, an ardent admirer of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gingrich, if he becomes Secretary of State, a post currently filled by John Kerry and, before him, Clinton herself, would then have far-reaching powers in foreign policy – a boon for right-wing Israelis who remember that he called Palestinians “an invented people” and sponsored the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

At home, he may federalise a (so-far) state-by-state approach to ‘boycotting the boycotters,’ denying federal funds to any organisations, such as colleges, that choose to boycott Israel.

And, if he is constitutionally able, he may tighten race-hate laws, especially over online comments and anti-Israel activity on campus. He will do this by mentioning the word ‘terrorism’ a lot. American universities, once home of the counter-revolution, may find that, under President Trump, supporting Israel Apartheid Week becomes illegal.

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