US Embassy in Jerusalem

Speaking of polarization, few issues are as divisive or intractable as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Yesterday’s ceremony marking the openingof the US Embassy in Jerusalem provided a stark and bloody portrait of that divide. Triumphant pomp in Jerusalem, horrific bloodshed at the Gaza border (at least 58 Palestinians killed in the worst violence in years), and outcry internationally.


The crisis will only deepen today as Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary, while Palestinians recall the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic) in which hundreds of thousands of their forebears were displaced during the creation of the Jewish state.

Three lenses through which to look at this.

Middle East Peace — Supporters of the embassy move say that by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital unilaterally, rather than leaving that issue to be negotiated as part of a peace accord, Washington is shrewdly forcing the Palestinians to deal sooner rather than later, lest their scope for negotiation narrows further. But critics say the move undermines Washington’s already dubious status as an even-handed broker between Israel and the Palestinians, and needlessly inflames Palestinian sentiment. The Trump administration may have the “ultimate” peace deal up its sleeve, but it’s hard to see any serious proposals moving forward in the current environment.

The domestic view for Bibi and Trump — Both men face potentially crippling investigations at home, and each is dealing with several foreign policy crises at once. The US embassy move gives both a key boost among their constituents. For Bibi, landing the US Embassy in Jerusalem enjoys broad support among Jewish Israelis, whatever their other divisions and misgivingsmay be. And a huge majority of Jewish Israelis also support the Israeli military’s handling of the Gaza border protests. For Trump, meanwhile, the move is a gift to the evangelical Christian voters who turned out in historical numbers for him in 2016. Trump will need those voters to stay on-side in 2018 and, of course 2020. This helps him do that.

The regional view — To the deepening dismay of the Palestinians, Middle East peace is — for Washington, for Israel, and for other key Arab governments such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE — a less important priority than the region’s primary geopolitical fault line now, which is Iran. Don’t take it from us, take it from the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh which, back when the US first announced the embassy move, ran an editorial which argued that “the Arabs must realize that Iran is more dangerous to them than Israel.”

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.

Read more on Microsoft On The Issues.

What do people think is driving the stock market's recent record high gains?


Well, there's really no precise answer, but analysts point to several factors. So, number one is strong third quarter earnings. Companies have reported stronger than expected results so far this season. The second is the jobs market. You saw the October jobs numbers exceed economists' expectations. And the third is the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates three times this year. That lowers borrowing costs for consumers and businesses and encourages them to spend more.

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In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, Israel launched a precision attack in the Gaza Strip, targeting and killing a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander. In response, the terror group fired more than 220 rockets at southern Israel. Exchanges of fire have brought cities on both sides of the Gaza border to a standstill and at least 19 Palestinians are dead and dozens of Israelis wounded. With this latest escalation, Israel now faces national security crises on multiple fronts. Here's what's going on:

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