Trump Ends Silence With Palestinians, Opening A Path
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority was invited to the White House by President Trump on Friday.
President Trump spoke with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Friday for the first time since taking office and invited him to visit the White House, opening a new avenue of diplomacy as he develops his own peace initiative for the Middle East.
Mr. Trump, who presented himself last year as Israel’s greatest champion, had refused to deal directly with Palestinian officials until now. But after a White House meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and multiple conversations with Arab leaders from the region, Mr. Trump has embarked on what he promises to be a sustained effort to break a generations-old impasse and resolve the conflict.
The president has assigned Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, his top negotiator, to explore ways of bringing the two sides together in tandem with other players in the region. Mr. Greenblatt plans to follow up Friday’s telephone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Abbas with a visit next week to the region. He will meet with Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Mr. Abbas in Ramallah, the headquarters for the Palestinian Authority that operates in the occupied West Bank.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, an adviser and spokesman for Mr. Abbas, said the two presidents spoke for about 20 minutes in English and called it “a very good conversation.”
“He invited our president to the White House and it seems like he’s ready to deal with my president to achieve a real peace,” Mr. Rudeineh said. “The president seemed very serious about a peace deal, and a man who is willing to do something on the ground and is willing to do something to end the suffering in this region.”
In a statement describing the call, the White House said, “The president emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal.”
Mr. Abbas’s advisers initially expressed worry that Mr. Trump did not reach out sooner, and that he seemed deeply tilted toward Israel. For his ambassador to Israel, he nominated David M. Friedman, a lawyer and fervent supporter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. During Mr. Netanyahu’s visit last month, Mr. Trump cast aside two decades of American support for a two-state solution, meaning the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, saying it did not matter to him what form an agreement took as long as both sides concurred.
But Mr. Trump has also moderated some of his positions since taking office. After Mr. Netanyahu announced thousands of new homes in the West Bank, Mr. Trump asked him to delay new construction, saying it would not help peace efforts. And while he promised last year to quickly move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem despite the longstanding dispute over a city that both sides claim as a capital, he has not acted on that pledge, making clear he was rethinking it.
In recent weeks, Palestinian leaders have expressed tentative optimism that Mr. Trump, however unorthodox in his approach, may in fact pursue the deal he says he wants in the Middle East. There have been contacts between intelligence organizations, including a visit to Mr. Abbas by the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo.
“I suspect the phone call came as something of a relief for Abbas, who has been waiting anxiously for seven weeks for the administration to make political contact with the Palestinian leadership,” said Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to the Palestinian leadership in negotiations with Israel and now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“Trump’s approach has not been terribly balanced, or even all that coherent, thus far,” he added, “but the administration seems to be returning to the standard talking points of the peace process — at least in relative terms. Whether any of this is enough to salvage the peace process or even a two-state solution is another matter.”
And then this one, the editorial comments about the ‘poor Jews’ not having a willing partner in the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with–spot on.
MK Steinitz–‘There’s no one for Israel to negotiate with’
Likud Minister says PA chief Mahmoud Abbas ‘too extreme’ to ever reach agreement with Israel.
Ed note–the ‘no partner’ schtick has been around for a loooooong, long time…This is the automatic, autonomic, reflexive black magic that the Jewish state belches out regularly in the interests of dominating the narrative and ensuring that she as the thieving, rapacious victimizer is always able to paint herself as the innocent, pure-as-the-wind-driven-snow victim who would just LOVE to secure a peace deal with the Palestinian people she has butchered and brutalized now for half a century, if only a suitable ‘partner’ could be found.
What makes this latest burp different however is that Netanyahu and Likud know that a change of political weather is coming with the new Trump administration. They knew it a year ago, which is why so much effort was expended and so much noise generated in trying to deep-six his chances at the presidency. Rome, now being governed by a new Caesar more accustomed to giving orders than taking them and willing to invest in risky ventures if the return is sufficient, is serious about extracting the Empire from the death spiral in which it finds itself vis a vis the Israeli/Palestinian situation, and the Jews know it.
Depending on what transpires in the very near future vis a vis the speed with which Trump puts together this peace deal and the level of support and cooperation he receives from the Palestinians, look for Israel to engage in her usual theatrics of blowing something up–including the Presidential limousine with Trump riding in it–in order to back-burner this latest development.
Israel National News
Israel is interested in pursuing bilateral negotiations for the resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict, National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said Monday morning, but has no partner in the Palestinian Authority willing and able to make peace.
Steinitz made the comments on Israel Radio just ahead of the arrival of special White House envoy Jason Greenblatt, who is slated to land in Israel Monday for talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. Minister Steinitz slammed the PA leader, arguing his extremist positions made negotiations between the PA and Israel impossible.
“Israel is just telling the truth about Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas] extreme positions, which negate the existence of [Israel] as a Jewish state.”
On Friday, President Trump spoke with Abbas over the phone, and invited him for a meeting in the White House. In February, Trump met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, their first get-together since the November election.