What We’re Writing
The Holy City: All eyes were on President Trump this week when he announced that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His decision was highly controversial but the wording of the announcement was “conveniently ambiguous.” Uri Friedman argues that this type of “foreign policy by half-measures” is typical of Trump, and David Graham suggests Trump may be avoiding domestic problems with a splashy foreign-policy announcement. Regional experts are worried about the consequences: Emma Green reports that the backlash will come from a perceived threat to the city’s religious sites, and Shadi Hamid argues that America’s Arab allies care little about Palestinian lives, and so will not have the visceral reaction some expect. While former Israeli Knesset member Einat Wilf believes that Trump’s move is the logical thing to do, Peter Beinart writes that it may be a sign the president is willing to stoke religious tensions in order to appeal to his political base.
The Broader Middle East: Jerusalem was not the only source of contention in the region this week. In Lebanon, Prime Minister Saad Hariri walked back the resignation he issued last month under mysterious circumstances, ending a month-long crisis with the help of French President Emmanuel Macron. And in Yemen, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed in an attack by his former Houthi allies, showing how complicated alliance-shifting can be in the region.