Where can Trump go to escape the law? Israeli settlements in the West Bank?


“Where can Trump go to escape the law? The Bahamas?” the Trenchant Observer, December 17, 2020.

As Donald Trump examines, or should be examining, where he can flee to escape the law, one relocation venue he and his co-conspirators may want to look into is the West Bank in general and the Israeli settlements on the West Bank in particular.

Israel has an extradition treaty with the United States, so relocation to Israel proper would be risky, particularly since Trump’s friend, Benjamin Netanyahu, is not likely to remain in power indefinitely. In fact, he is currently engaged in a campaign for the next legislative elections to be held on March 23, 2021.

Yet the West Bank has its advantages.

First, because it is occupied territory it is far from clear that the U.S. extradition treaty with Israel would be held to apply. In any event, if an extradition request were made to Israel, the treaty’s dubious applicability to the occupied territories would offer Trump and his co-conspirators ample opportunity for litigation and delay–and, if need be, escape.

Second, if Trump becomes the object of an extradition request, or an INTERPOL “red ticket” for his arrest, or other developments cause his West Bank settlement refuge to become riskier, he can always slip over the border into Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia itself may not be so attractive as a first-choice relocation venue, because the Saudi culture would not seem to be friendly to the Trump lifestyle. This would hold true in the early days, but would not be such a problem if he and his co-conspirators could remain discreet.

To be sure, it appears that Trump, who craves constant attention, cannot remain discreet–at least for any appreciable period of time.

But as a fall-back relocation venue, Saudi Arabia offers great advantages. Jared Kushner has become friends with the Crown Prince and de-facto ruler, Mohamed bin Salmon, popularly known as MBS, who is the son of the aging King.

In fact, Kushner and Trump appear to have played a key role in the internal coup d’état within the Saudi Royal Family which brought MBS and his father to power.  Trump also appears to have given a green light to the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar–in open violation of fundamental norms of international law.

Saudi Arabia, it will be recalled, was the first foreign country that Trump visited after taking office in 2017. He was reportedly thrilled by partipating in the sword ceremony, which involved pledges of loyalty.

Netanyahu reportedly met with MBS and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Saudi Arabia on November 23, 2020, in the futuristic city of Neom which lies close to the Israeli border. The  meeting was heralded in Israel but denied in Saudi Arabia.  Nonetheless, it is reliably reported to have taken place, presumably at the urging of the Trump Administration.

Saudi Arabia has played a key role in the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrein, Somalia, and Morocco, a significant breakthrough in Arab-Israeli relations.

The breakthrough represents arguably the most significant foreign policy achievement of the Trump administration, even if it was achieved by ignoring the grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, apparently on the orders of MBS; by Israel credibly threatening to annex the West Bank in flagrant violation of international law; and apparently by green-lighting the boycott of Qatar.

Trump is reportedly considering issuing a pardon to MBS, which would include the murder of Khashoggi and perhaps other crimes. At the time immediately following Khashoggi’s assassination, Kushner is  reported to have advised Trump’s inner circle that the matter would blow over.

A Trump pardon of MBS would seek to guarantee that.

In view of the above, Trump and his co-conspirators should be quite safe if they are forced to relocate from the West Bank to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the potential for development of tourist and retirement locations on the Red Sea coast may be alluring, particularly if the Crown Prince’s projects and policies for social (but not political) liberalization are successful over the coming years. Jedda, a major city on the Red Sea, has traditionally been much more liberal socially than the capital, Riyadh, in the interior.

If Saudi Arabia represents a strong and secure fall-back location for Trump and his co-conspirators, the West Bank represents a huge potential for real-estate and other developments by Trump and his minions.

One can easily imagine one or more West Bank Trump Tower and Golf Resorts  in the West Bank.  The weather is ideal during the winter months in Europe, which is a relatively short plane ride away (six hours from Paris).

Moreover, the West Bank settlements themselves represent an enormous potential market for condos to be bought by residents of Israel proper, or by Americans interested in acquiring a second home.

As for Trump’s co-conspirators, the ease of movement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, to be achieved through initiatives by MBS, should allow the pursuit of business opportunities not only in Israel and the West Bank, bur also in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, such as the UAE.

With the ability to fly in and out of the West Bank and Saudi Arabia relatively unimpeded, particularly in private planes, Trump and his co-conspirators could also pursue business opportunities in Africa, where most but not all countries do not have extradition treaties with the United States.

With Trump’s expected pardon of Saudi Crown Prince MBS, the conditions should be ideal for Trump and his co-conspirators to relocate to the West Bank.

If they choose this course, they should act quickly before the Israel elections on March 23, 2021, while Netanyahu is still in power.  They should, at a minimum, secure their residence visas as soon as possible.

While the Bahamas may be Trump’s preferred safe haven, it is always wise to develop fall-back positions. Russia remains a possible relocation venue, though after losing the U.S. presidential election in November a fresh risk assessment may be in order.

China remains a highly desirable relocation venue. Whether Trump may be emotionally inclined to seek refuge in the country where “the Wuhan virus” was unleashed, at least in the short term, is an open question, Still, China remains very attractive, at least as an ultimate relocation venue.

On balance, the Bahamas would probably be the most desirable relocation destination for Trump and his co-conspirators, particularly in view of its proximity to Miami and Mar-a-Lago.  The West Bank and Israeli settlements would appear to be the second most desirable destination.

But it is time to act.  The clock is ticking.

The Trenchant Observer