President Donald Trump will host Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the path forward in the long-running Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Trump’s meeting with the head of the Palestinian Authority will be another test of whether he is serious about pursuing what he has called the “ultimate deal” of Israeli-Palestinian peace that eluded his predecessors.
After hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, Trump will host Abbas for the first time since coming to office.
“The president’s ultimate goal is to establish peace in the region,” said Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, on Tuesday.
That long-shot effort – which has eluded US presidents since the 1970s – got off to a rocky start early in Trump’s administration.
He renounced US support for a Palestinian state and vowed to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, breaking two tenets of US policy held for decades.
Vice President Mike Pence said Trump is still “giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem”, a move that would spark Palestinian fury.
At the same time, Trump has urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world.
Pence said Trump is “personally committed to resolving the Israeli and Palestinian conflict” and “valuable progress” is being made.
“Momentum is building and goodwill is growing,” Pence said at an Israeli independence day event at the White House.
Abbas makes the trip to Washington while politically unpopular back home, with polls suggesting most Palestinians want the 82-year-old to resign.
He will be hoping Trump can pressure Israel into concessions he believes are necessary to salvage a two-state solution to one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
Abbas and Trump spoke by phone on March 11, and there are suggestions the US president could visit the Middle East this month.
Though expectations are low, plans are being firmed up for Trump to visit Netanyahu in Jerusalem and possibly Abbas in the West Bank, on May 22-23, according to people familiar with the matter.
US and Israeli officials have declined to confirm the visit.
Mutual distrust between Palestinians and Israelis will be a formidable, if not impossible, barrier for Trump to overcome.
Trump faces deep scepticism at home and abroad over his chances for a breakthrough.
National Security Adviser HR McMaster said on Tuesday night that Trump “does not have time to debate over doctrine”, and instead seeks to challenge failed policies of the past with a businessman’s results-oriented approach.
Trump’s unpredictability has rattled friends and foes alike around the world. Some analysts doubt he can succeed where experienced Middle East hands failed for decades, especially when trust between Israelis and Palestinians is at a low point.
“The president is not a super-patient man,” McMaster said.
“Some people have described him as disruptive. They’re right. And this is good – good because we can no longer afford to invest in policies that do not advance the interests and values of the United States and our allies.”
Source: News agencies
Israel loves wars. Needs them. Does nothing to prevent them, and sometimes instigates them
There’s no other way to read the state comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza war and there’s no more important conclusion that arises from it.
ed note–all true, but with only one disagreement in Levy’s statement, to wit–
‘It is doubtful that a rational explanation can be found for the phenomenon, but the fact is, every time Israel goes to war it receives sweeping, automatic and blind support in public opinion and the media.’
Israel is THE JEWISH STATE, and as such is founded upon the teachings, traditions, and precepts of JUDAISM, the very foundation of which is WAR WITH GENTILEDOM. Virtually every religious feast of importance–from Passover to Purim to Hanukkah–celebrates the destruction of Gentiledom. The 5 ‘books of Moses’ comprising the Torah and which itself is the beating heart of Judaism, is replete with passage after passage where the ‘Lord thy God’ is commanding his ‘chosen people’ to go into various villages, cities and homes and to slaughter everything that lives and to ‘save nothing alive that breathes’.
No ‘rational explanation can be found for the sweeping, automatic and blind support in public opinion and the media that the JEWISH STATE receives whenever it goes on one of her blood binges in Gaza or wherever?
Beam me up
Gideon Levy, Haaretz
Israel loves wars. Needs them. Does nothing to prevent them, and sometimes instigates them. There is no other way to read the state comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza war, and there is no more important conclusion that arises from it.
All the rest – the tunnels, the National Security Council, the cabinet and the intelligence – are trifles, nothing more than efforts to distract us from the main thing. The main thing is that Israel wants war. It rejected all the alternatives, without discussing them, without interest in them, in order to fulfill its desire.
Israel wanted wars in the past as well. Since the 1948 war, all its wars could have been avoided. They were clearly wars of choice, although most of them were of no use and a few of them caused irreparable damage. Israel usually initiated them, sometimes wars were forced on it, but even then, they could have been avoided, like in 1973. Some of the wars ended the careers of those who started them, and yet, time after time Israel chooses war as the first and preferred option. It is doubtful that a rational explanation can be found for the phenomenon, but the fact is, every time Israel goes to war it receives sweeping, automatic and blind support in public opinion and the media. Thus not only the government and the army love war, all of Israel loves war.
This is proven by the fact that committees of investigation publish almost identical reports after every war – the report on the Gaza war is almost plagiarized from the Winograd Commission report after the 2006 Second Lebanon War. ‘The war was embarked on hastily and irresponsibly.’) When nothing is learned and everything is forgotten, it’s clear that something strong is pulling Israel to war.
That’s also the way it was in the summer of Operation Protective Edge, when there was no reason at all for war. And that’s the way it will be in the next war, which looms ahead. What a pity that the “red alert” in the south on Tuesday was a false alarm. It was almost the opportunity to strike a disproportionate blow on Gaza, the way Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Israel love, the kind that drags Israel down to the next war.
Its writing is already on the wall, its enthusiasts miss no opportunity to instigate it and its history is like the history of the wars covered by the state comptroller’s reports. The next war will also have a report. You and me and the next war, and the next report.
It’s reasonable to assume that the next war will break out in Gaza. The alibi is already prepared. The horror over the tunnels, which has been blown into the grotesque proportions of a nuclear world war, was created for this purpose. Primitive combat tools are enough to create the perfect alibi for war. And like before Operation Protective Edge, no one stops to ask: What about Gaza, which in another three years won’t be fit for human habitation? How do we expect it to respond in light of the existential danger to its inhabitants? What’s the hurry? There’s time. Meanwhile it can be destroyed another time or two.
Gaza pampers Israel with deluxe wars. There’s nothing Israelis love more than a war against a non-army, against those who have no aerial cover, no armor and no artillery, just an army of the barefoot and tunnels, which allows Israel stories of great heroism and bereavement. Israeli bombardments of the helpless, for some reason called war, with minimal Israeli casualties and maximal Palestinian casualties – that’s the way we like our wars.
The state comptroller has determined that the cabinet did not discuss alternatives to war. That should have been a cry that reverberated from one end of the country to the other, yet it was swallowed up in the nonsense of the tunnels. Any child in Gaza knows that there is such an alternative, that if Gaza opens to the world, it will be different. But for that, courageous Israeli leaders are needed, and of those there are none. Masses of Israelis are needed to say an unequivocal “no” to wars – and there are none of those, either. Why?
Because Israel loves wars.
Israel and Palestine
The innocent imprisoned. Movement restricted. Trade suffocated. Homes demolished. Human rights abuses are rife in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
We do not take a position on issues of statehood.
We stand with those demanding that all sides respect human rights, and that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.