wnol.info January 22 2018

After meeting Abbas, Trump vows to do all to reach Mideast peace

January 22 2018, 08:32 | Guillermo Bowen

By signing a historic nuclear deal with Iran, Obama strained US relations with Saudi Arabia.

If you're one of those people who looks for clues into the health of the Trumps' marriage, this may provide more fodder. "I like you, too".

During his visit to Jerusalem, Trump said a struggle against Iran and the Islamic State (IS) should be a shared interest of all nations in the Middle East.

"Peace has eluded people for a long time in the region", he said. He will close his ambitious first foreign trip at a pair of summits in Brussels and Sicily, where his reception from European leaders may be less effusive than his welcome in Israel and Saudi Arabia, his opening stop on the trip.

President Trump's envoy for the Middle East peace process is looking to make a quick trip back to Israel next week, with an eye toward "moving fast" on trying to start the peace process with the Palestinians while everyone is still more or less on board.

Daniel Estrin is Jerusalem correspondent for NPR News. "Nobody wants to get caught saying no, and they haven't".

"Trump presents a reversed Obama doctrine - he says he comes to do the opposite", said Yaki Dayan, a former Israeli consul general in Los Angeles, adding that "the only thing in common with Obama is that they view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a major issue but they have two completely different methods of solving it". He offered the Saudis a massive $110 billion arms deal despite the fact that their brutal bombing of Yemeni civilians makes it potentially illegal. Apparently satisfied with recent tweaks in Israel's West Bank policy, Trump made no reference to Jewish settlements in the territory.

Trump's caution showed. He did not weigh in on Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem or even whether the US would continue to insist on a two-state solution giving the Palestinians sovereign territory. During his campaign, Mr. Trump, addressing the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), vowed to move the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a controversial plan that would imply recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The US president dedicated less than an hour to meet with Abbas in Bethlehem, during a two-day visit to Israel.

TRUMP: We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single, unified voice.

At face value, Mr. Trump's enthusiasm for reaching a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians is commendable; the Obama administration was so pessimistic about the chances for peace that it wasn't even made a priority.

What President Trump failed to say was "two-state solution" referring to a future, independent Palestinian state.

"Palestinians are ready to reach for peace", Trump said. "So it really was very historic in that regard".

He said King Salman of Saudi Arabia is also hoping for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, hinting at bringing in a regional power to clinch an agreement that has eluded numerous American presidents in the past. But ultimately, he said, they would struggle to summon the necessary political will.

But within the Palestinian sector, there's not much expectation for developments beyond statements. Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, both of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, voted against a measure to boost Palestinian building in Area C of the West Bank, which Israel fully governs.

In Israel, Mr. Netanyahu is now being investigated for corruption after it was alleged in the media that he had taken gifts from wealthy businessmen, Newsweek reports. He said not a word about lack of democracy and human rights among US allies in the area.

Nevertheless, Lieberman said, "We are following developments and are aware and have ways of dealing with this".

Although many politicians in Israel hailed this description of Jerusalem's historical ties to Judaism, Pizzaballa took a more measured approach.

KEITH: Trump said he would call people who commit these kinds of acts monsters, but they might like that, so. But that would require skillful diplomacy.

The two-state solution has always been the cornerstone of USA policy in the region, and is widely regarded as the only settlement that both sides could realistically accept. "We've seen complete chaos".

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