- Trump has promised to do whatever it takes to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
- His promise has been met with skepticism and criticism given that his administration has failed to unveil a strategy on the issue.
- Trump might visit both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank in late May.
- US President has failed to declare America’s long-standing commitment to the two-state solution of the issue, and therefore to Palestinian statehood.
- He has pressed Palestinian leader Abbas to stop the payment of stipends to the families of Palestinian men considered ‘terrorists’ by Israel.
US President Donald Trump has adopted an upbeat tone on the Israeli-Palestinian dealings, promising to do “whatever is necessary” for a peace deal after he received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the White House.
Critics, however, have been quick to react that, other than expressing optimism, Trump has no idea how to go about his vow to broker peace in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There have been no serious negotiations on a peace deal since the election of hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s Prime Minister in 2009.
The government of the so called Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Abbas’s party Fatah, wants to establish its own independent state on the territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, which were conquered by Israel in the 1967 war.
Even Hamas, a radical Palestinian group fully or partly listed as a terrorist entity by a number of countries and organizations, which is Fatah’s rival and has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2006, recently said it would agree to the 1967 borders of Palestine, without, however, recognizing Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects the 1967 borders as a basis for border talks and rules out the partition of Jerusalem where the Palestinians wants to set up their capital.
In spite of US requests to the contrary, the Netanyahu government, not unlike previous Israeli cabinets, has expanded Israeli settlements in the territories captured by Israel in 1967.
‘Mediator, Arbitrator, or Facilitator’
US President Donald Trump received at the White House the President of Palestinian Authority late on Wednesday night, declaring he would do “whatever is necessary” to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Reuters reported.
It commented, however, that Trump had shown little signs of having an idea as to how to go about settling the long-standing conflict.
What is more, he even failed to commit his administration to the much talked about two-state solution, a bedrock of the US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reports noted that some Palestinians were disappointed by the omission.
“I will do whatever is necessary. … I would love to be a mediator or an arbitrator or a facilitator, and we will get this done,” Trump told Abbas amid skepticism that he could fulfill the role he was assigning himself.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reasserted the goal of a Palestinian state, saying it must have East Jerusalem as its capital with the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.
Abbas told Trump that under “your courageous stewardship and your wisdom, as well as your great negotiating ability,” the Palestinians would be partners seeking a “historic peace treaty.”
“It’s about time for Israel to end its occupation,” the Palestinian leader said, referring to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Trump pressed Abbas to do more to stop “incitement to violence” against Israelis and, according to the White House, urged him in private to stop payments to families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, a long-standing grievance of Israel.
US lawmakers have warned that Palestinian funding could be cut off unless Abbas halts stipends from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to families of prisoners whom Israel considers terrorists but many Palestinians view as heroes.
There was no indication 82-year-old Abbas yielded to the pressure, especially when hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike.
Skepticism about the potential of the Trump Administration to achieve a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian dealings has been underscored by the fact that it has not unveiled any strategy or plan on the issue.
During their meeting on Wednesday, Trump is reported to have pressed Abbas to do more to stop “incitement to violence” against Israelis and, according to the White House, urged him in private to halt payments to families of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, a long-standing grievance of Israel.
Back in February, US President Trump received Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had tense relations with former US President Barack Obama.
After meeting with Netanyahu, Trump seemed to renege on the two-state solution, i.e. establishing a Palestinian state alongside that of Israel, even though Palestinian statehood has been the main goal of previous US administrations and other international factors.
There are plans for Trump to visit Netanyahu in Jerusalem and possibly Abbas in the West Bank on May 22 and 23, Reuters reported citing people familiar with the matter, which could mean a serious commitment on part of the Trump Administration, or even a possible meeting of the three leaders.