Trump says 'ultimate deal' possible for peace in Middle East

Adjust Comment Print

On his first official trip to the Middle East, President Trump has resoundingly thrown America's lot in with Sunni Arab states and cast Shiite Iran as a global pariah, even as Iranians reelected a president who has offered to work with the West. This was made harder because Israelis, true to the stereotype - two Israelis, three opinions - didn't agree. Trump would not permit Netanyahu or any other Israeli to be at the Kotel with him. But a key center-left figure called the visit "a missed opportunity of historic proportions". Trump also never mentioned the settlements. And so many people I spoke to here, Israelis and Palestinians, said, why should Trump be any different? Turning to the prime minister, who joined him for the speech, Trump said, "Benjamin Netanyahu wants peace". But brand Trump is simple, big picture - not detail. But there are reasons to worry that the foundation of the U.S. -Israel alliance is getting shakier, and this visit did nothing to change that. He even attempted, unsuccessfully, to undermine Obama's efforts by circumventing the White House and addressing his objections directly to Congress.

Donald Trump on Tuesday arrived in Rome for a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis in what was his first official trip to Europe since becoming US President. "We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single, unified voice".

Trump's assertive stance toward the Islamic Republic has been well known since long before he took office.

But within the Palestinian sector, there's not much expectation for developments beyond statements.

An NPR article, "Trump arrives in Israel for second leg of worldwide trip", left readers with the distinct impression that Bethlehem and the Western Wall are in Israel.

We didn't get an answer to that question.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations highlighted Trump's condemnation of incitement and terror financing following his meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

But I'd argue that the answer is both.

More news: Trump talks up trip before returning to DC
More news: First lady Visits Vatican's Children's Hospital
More news: McMaster says 'not concerned' after Kushner back-channel reports

But hardliners in Israel could find plenty to cheer about in Trump's concluding speech, too.

"I am truly hopeful that American can help Israel and the Palestinians forge peace and bring new hope to the region and its people", the USA president said.

In a joint news conference, the Palestinian president said: "Once again, we reassert to you our positions of accepting the two-state solution along the borders of 1967 - the state of Palestine with its capital as East Jerusalem, living alongside the state of Israel in peace and security and good neighborhood, as well as resolving the entire final status issues based on global law and worldwide long-term resolutions, and respecting side agreements which sets the tone for the implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative in accordance with what has been reaffirmed in the most recent Arab Summit in Jordan".

On the other hand, while Trump may believe he has now laid the foundations for a push toward peace negotiations, his critics are correct that they are foundations without substance.

Right-wingers said they were at least relieved that Trump made no mention of the two-state solution, which they strongly oppose.

"Our fundamental problem is with the occupation and settlements, and failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine in the same way we recognize it, which undermines the realization of the two-state solution". No one watching the visit believes he has that yet.

Mr Abbas had sought to convince the unpredictable US President to remain committed to an independent Palestinian state. It is a central theological principle of Wahhabism, an austere form of Islam based on a literal interpretation of the Koran, which Saudi Arabia has for years promoted in children's textbooks, in mosques and through its media. Though it won't show in the photos, Trump's carelessness bodes ill - in the short-term, for the intense engagement and rebuilt relationships a peace process would require, and in the long-term, for his grandchildren's ability to visit those Christian, Jewish, and Muslim landmarks at peace.