Mr. Kushner nodded to the challenges of forging a peace agreement, saying that “it will not be an easy road, and it will be filled with difficult moments and tough decisions.” But dismissed the problems neatly: “If we dream big, if we lead with courage, we can change the trajectory for millions from hopeless to boundless.”
But many analysts now believe that Mr. Kushner’s plan — drawn up with David M. Friedman, Mr. Trump’s envoy to Israel, and Jason D. Greenblatt, his top international negotiator — has even less chance of advancing than it once did.
Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars who has advised Democratic and Republican presidents on the Middle East, said that while he once viewed forging a peace deal in the Middle East as “mission impossible,” on Monday it became “mission impossible on steroids.”
“They’ve hyped up the anxiety, the frustration and the obsession with Jerusalem, ensuring that Jerusalem becomes the bellwether of whether this peace plan flies or not,” Mr. Miller said of Mr. Trump and his advisers. “Instead of taking Jerusalem off the table, they have made Jerusalem the table.”
Administration allies argued instead that moving the embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could have a positive effect on the prospects for peace, essentially forcing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
“The long-delayed, symbolic move addresses a historic injustice: Israel is the only country in the world not allowed to choose its own capital,” said Jim Phillips, a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He said the step “could have a positive impact in the long run if it shocks Palestinian and other Arab leaders into recognizing that the longer they wait to genuinely accept Israel’s existence and sign a peace treaty, the less they can expect to gain from such a treaty.”
On Monday, such an agreement remained a long-off hypothetical. Mr. Shah said that the Trump plans for resolving the conflict would be released at an “appropriate time.” For now, the administration’s diplomatic focus is elsewhere, preparing for historic denuclearization talks between Mr. Trump and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.
“What today is about is following through on what the president promised and believes,” Mr. Shah said. “We’ve, for decades, walked on eggshells, pretending that Jerusalem isn’t the capital of Israel, when it obviously is.”