Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump Buries Oslo: Warm Greeting for Netanyahu

You can see the warmth

The President & Netanyahu followed by Jared & Ivanka Kushner

The Presidential Guest House welcomed Netanyahu with an Israeli flag
(ABC News)

Quote of the week:
"The two-state model is widely viewed as the formula for Middle East peace. But the fact of the matter is that it makes peace impossible to achieve, by holding normal relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors hostage to grandiose peace deals."
-Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, 2/17/17
Trump Backs Away from Palestinian State - Peter Baker and Mark Landler
President Trump jettisoned two decades of diplomatic orthodoxy by declaring that the U.S. would no longer insist on the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. Hosting Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel for the first time since becoming president, Trump said he was flexible about how an agreement would look and that he would not be bound by past assumptions. "I'm looking at two-state and one-state" formulations. "I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one."
(New York Times)
A major takeaway from the Trump-Netanyahu press conference is that differences between the U.S. and Israel will be dealt with very differently - as among friends, not rivals. The jocular tone was significantly different from the heavy, tense tone of most of the Obama-Netanyahu meetings.   

Another major takeaway was Trump's refusal to unequivocally endorse the two-state solution, U.S. policy since President George W. Bush announced support for a Palestinian state in 2002. Trump essentially said that he is open to entertaining ideas and approaches to the diplomatic process other than the ones that have been tried - and have failed - since the Oslo process began in 1993. The third major takeaway is the administration's endorsement of looking at a wider regional diplomatic process, as Netanyahu has been advocating for a number of years.
(Jerusalem Post)
Those who expected Donald Trump to effect genuine change in Washington still might be waiting for him to take action on some issues, but when it comes to altering existing Middle East policy, the president has not disappointed. With his refusal to specifically endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the president has seemingly discarded the idea that has been the bedrock principle of U.S. Middle East diplomacy for the past generation.
[T]he president...was endorsing a diplomatic principle: The U.S. cannot impose peace on terms that aren’t accepted by the parties, and we shouldn’t behave in a manner that encourages Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to make peace.
The Palestinians believe that pressure from the international community will isolate the Jewish state and make it vulnerable. Trump’s refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the United Nations to impose terms on Israel — which is how they rewarded Obama for his efforts on their behalf.
Trump’s willingness to put pressure on the Palestinians — rather than pointlessly hammering the Israelis as Obama did — actually increases his chances of success, minimal though they may be.
[National Review]

The Trump administration is in talks with Arab allies about having them form a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter their mutual foe, Iran, several Middle Eastern officials said. The alliance would include Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Egypt and Jordan. Other Arab countries could also join. The U.S. would offer military and intelligence support to the alliance.
One Arab diplomat said, "Israel's role would likely be intelligence sharing, not training or boots on the ground. They'd provide intelligence and targets. That's what the Israelis are good at." 
(Wall Street Journal)
  • For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow a Palestinian state. He didn't take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas-Fatah rivalry made it impossible for them to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama's approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts.
  • Trump sent the opposite message to the Palestinians. His refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the UN to impose terms on Israel. Trump's willingness to put pressure on the Palestinians - rather than pointlessly hammering the Israelis as Obama did - actually increases his chances of success, minimal though they may be.

  • (National Review)

    With Netanyahu's visit to the White House, the pressure for a Palestinian state is lessened on Israel, and it's a way of saying to the Palestinians: "You conduct terror. You teach your children to hate. We are not going to reward you in advance with statehood unless you do it in negotiations."
    (Fox News-National Review)
    During the war in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese intention was to conquer South Vietnam, but they spoke of the "Two-State Solution" to disguise their aims and manipulate world public opinion. They adopted a strategy of phases which would enable them to reach their goal by gradual steps.
    In the early 1970s, Salah Khalaf led a PLO delegation to Hanoi to learn from the North Vietnamese. There, they met the legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap and political advisors who coached them on presenting their case and changing their image of being terrorists.
    Khalaf recounted that the North Vietnamese advised the Palestinians to devote attention to the intermediate stages of their war. "The Politbureau members gave a long expose of the various stages in the Vietnamese People's struggle, explaining why they had had to resign themselves to various concessions, sometimes important ones such as the division of the country into two separate, independent states."
    It is still necessary to listen carefully to what the enemy is saying and what he means. We live in a high-technology culture of sound bites, but in order to understand what is wrong here, we must remember the history of this slogan, which was designed from the start to be a swindle. It began as a tool of political warfare, and its purpose never changed.

    The time has come - indeed it is long past - for the U.S. to tell the Palestinians that they must negotiate with Israel if they want a Palestinian state, and must agree to end the conflict, permanently and unequivocally.
    Otherwise, the status quo will continue, and there will be only one state, and that state will be Israel
    (Jerusalem Post)
    - Rafael Medoff

    At his press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Feb. 15, President Trump said "the Palestinians have to get rid of" the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish material that appears in PA school texts. "They're taught tremendous hate," he said. "I've seen what they're starts at a very young age and it starts in the schoolroom."
    Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, "The U.S. government should use all leverage at its disposal to do something about changing the Palestinian schoolbooks, especially when the U.S. provides the Palestinians with over $350 million in aid each year. It's an outrage that the incitement continues." Hoenlein emphasized that "ending the incitement should not be a result of negotiations, but rather must be a prelude to negotiations."
    Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president emeritus of Conservative Judaism's Rabbinical Assembly, said, "I am glad President Trump believes it is time for us to become more forceful in our efforts to force change....The road to peace cannot be achieved by teaching hate to generation after generation in school curriculums or by publicly praising killers of Israelis."
    Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, former president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL), noted that "the U.S. in the past verbally urged the PA to stop incitement, but there was no enforcement. If this was enforced, it would push the Palestinians to shift from the victimhood mode and start acting like a peace partner." 

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