By Punishing Palestinians, Trump Could Plunge the Middle East Deeper Into Turmoil

By Punishing Palestinians, Trump Could Plunge the Middle East Deeper Into Turmoil
Thousands of employees of UNRWA, the U.N agency for Palestinian refugees demonstrate in support of their organization following U.S. funding cuts, Gaza City, Jan. 29, 2018 (AP photo by Khalil Hamra).

Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address last week may have been mild by his standards. But while generally lacking in inflammatory rhetoric, the speech wasn’t devoid of it altogether. In a moment that deserves more attention than it received, Trump referred to a vast swath of countries, including many U.S. allies, as “enemies of America.”

Those three words, which did not appear in the prepared text released by the White House before Trump’s address, were directed at the 128 countries that backed a December resolution at the United Nations General Assembly condemning the Trump administration’s unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Casting the resolution as a rejection of “America’s sovereign right to make this recognition” by countries that receive billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers every year, Trump called on Congress “to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to friends of America—not enemies of America.”

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