Israel gets pumping up in reliance on Trump-led US

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After eight years of a bitter relationship between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel is expecting easier times with the Trump administration who will take office on Jan. 20.

When Trump tweeted "Stay strong Israel, January 20 is fast approaching!" it was music to Netanyahu's ears.

The tweet came after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution calling Israel's settlements in the West Bank illegal.

The adoption of the resolution was a record-low in the relations between Obama and Netanyahu.

"Friends don't take friends to the Security Council," a furious Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting held days after the UNSC meeting. He had expected the U.S. to veto the resolution rather than abstain and thus allow it to pass.

Netanyahu leads a right-wing coalition with one of his main partners, the Jewish Home party. In the aftermath of the resolution, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party, said he would move forward on annexing the West Bank.

Israel captured the West Bank during the 1967 war. Since then, it has settled the land with thousands of Jewish residents.

Palestinians see the settlements as moves by Israel to create facts on the ground that hinder the establishment of a Palestinian state. The resolution was a major boost for their argument.

With Trump in the White House, Bennett may be able to promote his cause.

Nimrod Goren, head of Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, does not think this will happen.

"I think the opposite will happen. Israel now has more legitimacy for it's current policy. As much as Netanyahu doesn't want to see the two-state solution actually move forward. I think the Netanyahu policy is to do small steps quietly to change the reality on the ground without these big bombastic moves," said Goren.

Trump appointed a new ambassador to Israel whose track record is clearly in favor of Israeli settlement expansion. He has promised on his election to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. For years, American presidential candidates have promised to do so.

This would be a contentious move. East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, only on it's Western half. Israel says the capital is the unified city.

In a recent attack, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem killed four Israeli soldiers and wounded tens of others by ramming his truck into them as they were touring Jerusalem on an educational trip. The attack occurred minutes away from where the American consulate is situated.

A few days before the attack, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as saying that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would have "irreversible implications that go beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Members of the Israeli media speculated that Abbas' comments may have inspired the attack. Palestinians see Jerusalem as the future capital of their state.

Goren said "It's not perhaps in the American interests, its definitely not in the Israeli interest. If you want to see a future of peace for Israel, a future of cooperation with the region, then moving the American embassy to Jerusalem doesn't support or doesn't help the peace process. It just highlights the risk of deterioration."

Goren goes further to say he believes Israeli officials will quietly tell their American counterparts not to "rush with doing that step," recognizing it's explosive potential.

As long as Netanyahu remains in power, Israel will most likely continue it's policies without amendment.

"There is no status-quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Settlements are being built. The two-state solution chances are becoming more and more distant and this coupled with American moves on the ground, which are seen as problematic in the Arab world, that could lead up unfortunately to deterioration on the ground," said Goren.

The next Israeli election is scheduled for November 2019. At that time, it is also possible that Abbas may step down. These potential changes will probably make greater impact on the conflict than the Trump administration.

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