Trump seems to be striking the right tone on Israel

Morning View

Morning View

Donald Trump has been president for less than a month, but he has already become embroiled in numerous controversies.

The most charitable explanation for this bumpy start to his tenure in the White House is that America’s new commander-in-chief is experiencing the teething problems to which any new administration is prone.

It is no surprise that a new presidency that is so lacking in traditional experience of governing will run into swift difficulties when it suddenly takes command of a government as complex as that of a superpower, the United States.

A less charitable explanation is that Mr Trump has advocated many undeliverable election campaign promises, and then has compounded that error by trying to show consistency, by implementing the said pledges.

To a perhaps surprising extent, for a man who has been diagnosed from afar as a narcissist, Mr Trump has in many recent comments seemed prepared to rely on more experienced voices. So far, he seems to be getting his Israeli policy right.

America is Israel’s most important and trusted and generous ally. It would be disastrous for the Middle East, and indeed for western values, if that was to change.

Barack Obama did try to edge away from emphatic US support for Israel, and had notable rocky relations with Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the White House yesterday.

Mr Netanyahu is a hardliner – at times too hardline. But Mr Obama’s administration was quite wrong to back a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements as illegal. The UK also made a blunder in backing that motion – Theresa May then seemed, in tone, to retreat from Britain’s support for the motion.

Mr Trump is right also to steer America back from that. Israel is in the frontline against Islamic terrorism and is a shining beacon of democracy and enlightened thinking in the region. But Mr Trump was also right yesterday to advise Israel against the extreme policy of rushing into new settlements.