Friday, May 05, 2017

Trump Offers "Arab Umbrella"

Trump's Approach: Figure Out the Details Later
- Brian Bennett and Tracy Wilkinson

President Trump hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House and told him, "I've always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians; let's prove them wrong." Despite the opening flourishes of praise and goodwill, the meeting between Trump and Abbas was expected to become more uncomfortable behind closed doors, as the administration laid out a series of demands.

The White House went out of its way to build up Abbas during the visit, giving in to requests for a lunch with Trump beyond their meeting, as well as that the Palestinian flag be placed behind Trump while the two leaders made statements about the visit, a person close to the White House said.

The White House felt that giving Abbas those symbolic concessions would help create an opening to demand that Abbas shut down terror incitement, stop payments by the Palestinian Authority to the families of those killed or imprisoned in terrorist attacks against Israelis, refrain from lobbying the UN for additional resolutions against Israel, and get on board toward a peace deal. 
(Los Angeles Times)

Palestinians Reject Trump's Request to End Terrorists' Payments
- Yasser Okbi

Nabil Shaath, a senior foreign policy adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, described President Trump's appeal to halt payments to convicted terrorists or their families as "mad" during an interview with Israel Radio, Maariv reported. Shaath added, however, his "appreciation" for Trump's "respectful" approach in an attempt to relaunch the peace process. 
(Jerusalem Post-Maariv Hashavua)

Palestinians Delight in Warm Trump Welcome But Have Cause for Concern
- Avi Issacharoff

The meeting between President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House was "very pleasant," senior Palestinian officials said. "He was very sympathetic," and "the atmosphere was excellent and warm." Yet the Palestinian side has cause for concern on the morning after. Legislation is making its way through the U.S. Congress to stop aid to the PA if it continues to pay salaries to families of security prisoners.

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat in London reported that Trump had promised Abbas an Arab "political umbrella" - Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian backing - if the PA leader agreed to enter talks with Israel.
(Times of Israel)

Trump Approach to the Palestinian Arena
- Brig.-Gen (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser

There is no real difference between the narratives of Hamas and the PA. Both deny the existence of a Jewish people and any sovereign Jewish history in the Land of Israel, both consider Zionists colonizers. Both see as their ultimate and uncompromising goal the liberation of all of "Palestine" and are committed to the so-called "right of return." The only tactical differences are about the attitude toward the Oslo agreements (Hamas opposes them, the PA accepts them but ignores Palestinian obligations under them).
The writer was formerly director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
(Jerusalem Post)

Emerging U.S. Policy on Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Daniel B. Shapiro

On their visits to Washington, leaders of key Arab states - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states - were showered with praise by President Trump as key partners in the campaign against ISIS. Arab leaders are ecstatic about Trump's tough rhetoric toward Iran and deep skepticism toward the nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration. In turn, Washington has advocated a regional approach to reinvigorating Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in which the Arab states would contribute by making gestures of normalization toward Israel and encouraging the Palestinians to show flexibility at the negotiating table.

The issue of ending Palestinian Authority payments to terrorist prisoners and their families has gained new currency in Washington, where the murder of U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016 has galvanized bipartisan Congressional efforts to condition assistance to the Palestinians on an end to these payments.
The writer is a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Abbas Lies to Trump, Big Time - Noah Pollak

[A]t the White House, PA President Mahmoud Abbas claimed, "We are raising our a culture of peace." In his campaign speech to AIPAC, Trump said: "In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you've got a culture of hatred that has been fomenting there for years." But Abbas denied that any such concerns are legitimate or true. Please forget all those videos you've seen of Palestinian kindergarteners declaring their greatest ambition in life is to stab a Jew. The lie Abbas told President Trump to his face told the president almost everything he needs to know about the man he is relying on as his partner.

(Washington Free Beacon)

The New "Softer" Hamas
- Kobi Michael

Hamas is not changing its stripes. Hamas was, and remains, a radical Islamic militant organization and a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that ideologically rejects the right of Israel to exist. The purported updates to its charter that have been leaked so far are nothing more than political acrobatics by Hamas leaders who are attempting cosmetic changes for political gain.

By appearing to soften its position and temporarily accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines, political leader Khaled Maashal is maneuvering Hamas for an inside takeover of the Palestine Liberation Organization - the umbrella group headed by Abbas. At the same time, the leaked information came from Lebanon, not Gaza, where the new leadership of Yahya Sinwar, known for his militancy, has said nothing about softening any Hamas positions against Israel.

The new text rejects the three basic requirements set by the Middle East Quartet for Hamas to end its isolation as a terrorist organization: accept previously signed accords, reject violence and recognize Israel.
The writer is former deputy director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs and a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

Trump’s tragic mistake - Caroline Glick

[B]y embracing Abbas and the PLO, Trump empowered Hamas. He signaled to Hamas – and to every other terrorist group in the Middle East – that to receive international support, including from his administration, all you need to do is say that you are willing to follow the PLO’s dual strategy of engaging simultaneously in terrorism and political warfare and subterfuge.

There is no upside to Trump’s move. It will not bring peace. It harms prospects for peace by empowering Abbas and his terrorist henchmen.
[Jerusalem Post]


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