‘The Trump opportunity’ — some Palestinians are optimistic about Abbas visit to White House (!)

US Politics
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Update. Today Donald Trump appeared with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House and Trump spoke vaguely about “peace,” while Abbas praised Trump’s “leadership” as the chance for a “historic peace treaty,” which would end “occupation.”

Trump said nothing critical of Israel, but blamed Palestinian leaders for inciting violence by children.

There’s such hatred.  But hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long….  We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  We will get it done.  We will be working so hard to get it done.  It’s been a long time, but we will be working diligently.  And I think there’s a very, very good chance, and I think you feel the same way.

Abbas on occupation:

Mr. President, it’s about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land after 50 years.  We are the only remaining people in the world that still live under occupation.  We are aspiring and want to achieve our freedom, our dignity, and our right to self-determination.  And we also want for Israel to recognize the Palestinian state just as the Palestinian people recognize the state of Israel.

Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.

Original post.

Last night an old friend told me that Donald Trump is at once so disruptive and so keen to make the ultimate deal that some Palestinians are looking to President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to the White House as presenting real hope for a breakthrough in the 70 year impasse on the world’s promise to give self-determination to the Palestinian people. Yes I know this will strike many as laughable. But I am just passing along what some are saying.

That optimism is expressed foremost by Jibril Rajoub, a Fatah leader, in Newsweek: Let us not miss the Trump opportunity!

President Trump, speaking at a press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah on April 5, reiterated his hope to “be successful in finally finding peace between the Palestinian people and Israel.”

We are therefore convinced more than ever that, with impartial support from the US, this peace is still possible, however distant it may seem today.

Rajoub praises Trump for suggesting to Benjamin Netanyahu that he not build so many settlements, and:

In June our people will commemorate the 50 th anniversary of the Israeli occupation. The Trump administration is offering an opportunity to bring an end to this decades-long conflict and mark the beginning of a new era of peace, security and historic reconciliation. Let us not miss the Trump opportunity.

William Booth of the Post reports that others in Abbas’s circle are also hopeful.

the Arab leader and his advisers are expressing a kind of optimism not heard in years.

The Palestinians are saying they think Trump might be the one – with the right mix of bombast and unpredictability – to restart peace negotiations with Israel with the aim of securing Palestinian borders, a capital and a state.

One positive sign is that Israel lobbyists aren’t pleased with this meeting. David Makovsky of WINEP says there are “incredibly low expectations” for the Trump-Abbas meeting, Booth reports.

Shibley Telhami shares those expectations. He has a piece in the Washington Post saying that Trump has offered encouragement to “Palestinian optimists.” But that the president’s approach is misguided.

Palestinian optimists have reason to believe that Trump might push diplomacy in a promising direction. He touted a regional approach that Arabs have favored for the past 15 years, since the Arab Peace Initiative. Trump is considering a trip to the Middle East at the end of this month, partly to generate diplomatic momentum. The lure of a broader peace between Israel and other Arab states could be enticing to Israelis, while Arabs could theoretically bring some levers to help the Palestinian hand.

But Trump’s regional approach appears to have been inspired by Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister has countered his critics by rejecting the notion that the absence of a deal with Palestinians prevents stronger ties with other Arabs.

Trump is also constrained by his base to support Netanyahu, Telhami says. The scholar produces polling showing that most Democrats want to impose sanctions/apply pressure on Israel over settlement building but that Trump’s base, Republicans, are completely on Israel’s side:

Abbas has little choice but to explore what Trump has in mind. But our survey shows that despite the trend in the general public toward a more evenhanded approach on the issue, that’s not the case for Trump backers. When there is a stalemate in the negotiations, interpreting why, whom to blame and how America should respond will depend on who is doing the interpretation. And in Trump’s world, Abbas has little chance to compete with Netanyahu. Whatever his personal instinct, it’s unlikely that Trump will try to twist Netanyahu’s arm — certainly not on core issues.

Chas Freeman at Lobelog is also pessimistic. He points out that Abbas is in the 12th year of his four year term and is regarded by Palestinians as a collaborator in their imprisonment. While Trump will pursue an “outside-in” approach, calling on Sunni Arab states that are quietly cooperating with Israel against Iran, to make the peace. But it cannot work, because it’s one state.

Trump, of course, has his own illusions, both on the Civil War and the Israel/Palestine conflict. He told Reuters in an interview last week:

“I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever.”

You’d think a real estate guy would be a little more aware…

For more reality check, listen to Diana Buttu and Yousef Munayyer on public radio. Neither is very optimistic, and Munayyer knows the real obstruction here is Israeli intransigence:

“Trump might realize that Netanyahu is the worst kind of deal-maker that any businessman would ever want to encounter”

Buttu says that nearly 2/3 of Palestinians want Abbas to resign, “and as a result this meeting with President Trump isn’t going to do anything more other than try to attempt to get him to boost his popularity.” Bilateral negotiations won’t work; there’s a structural problem in such an approach. Abbas should support the hunger strike or BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). But the illusion of bilateral negotiations are Abbas’s only claim to be doing something.

A statement of resumption of negotiations will be a victory for Abbas, Buttu says; but will only signal more desperation for the Palestinian people. Even Aaron David Miller tells KCRW that the peace process is a fiction. But Abbas has no choice to play along.

Munayyer suggests that Trump could actually shake things up, once he’s had a bellyful of Netanyahu. From twitter:

What happens when Trump realizes Netanyahu is a snake oil salesman not a good faith negotiator? Chances are, he just ignores Isr/Palestine

Netanyahu’s MO is delay delay delay. Clinton/Obama dealt with that with far too much patience for many reasons but Trump is wild card.

Noura Erakat also said that Abbas was going to the wrong address, he should be appealing for international support. From the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

It is rather tragic that Mahmoud Abbas is meeting with Donald Trump at a time when even NFL Super Bowl champions are refusing the 45th President’s invitation due to his jingoist and destructive policies. Abbas has much to learn from these athletes….

The best thing Abbas could do right now is use Trump’s dismal record and the promise of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 condemning Israel’s settlement enterprise as illegal to pivot away from the US to internationalize the conflict.

Here’s one guy who’s not worried about Trump putting any pressure on Israel!

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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13 Responses

  1. eljay
    May 3, 2017, 1:23 pm

    That optimism is expressed foremost by Jibril Rajoub, a Fatah leader …

    We are therefore convinced more than ever that, with impartial support from the US, this peace is still possible, however distant it may seem today.

    I’m convinced more than ever that, with magical powers, my ability to fly is still possible, however distant it may seem today. I’m much less convinced, however, that I will ever acquire those magical powers.

    … Rajoub praises Trump for suggesting to Benjamin Netanyahu that he not build so many settlements …

    Seriously?

    Police chief [wagging his finger at the rapist]: I suggest that you stop raping so many women.
    Rapist: Whatever.
    Police chief: Well, I’ve done all I can do.
    Rajoub: My hero!

    Trump, of course, has his own illusions, both on the Civil War and the Israel/Palestine conflict. …

    “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever.”

    Yup, there’s no reason. None whatsoever. But if there were to be a reason, both sides would be equally to blame. But the Jewish side – and, let me tell you, no-one loves the Jewish side more than me, believe me – well, you could understand their position what with the other side – and I’m not going to name names here, that wouldn’t be right – the other side wanting to kill the Jewish side and wipe them off the map.

    Now where did I put that beautiful piece of chocolate cake?!

  2. AddictionMyth
    May 3, 2017, 2:00 pm

    Neither side wants peace. Why? Because they both make too much money extorting us with the threat of war. At some point the stupid Trumpkins are going to stop supporting sending billions to Israel. Maybe when they realize that Bibi and Pootey aren’t allies. Though, I think it’s funny that Israel is one of their last hopes for fascist nationalism that they can emulate. (Maybe France too, but Le Pen would be neutered just like Trump was.)

    • Mooser
      May 3, 2017, 2:13 pm

      “Though, I think it’s funny that Israel is one of their last hopes for fascist nationalism that they can emulate.”

      Well, like you say “AM”, you will be there soon and will see for yourself.

      .” I am not a Zionist but I am a very proud Jew and hopefully soon Israeli.” “AM” http://mondoweiss.net/profile/addictionmyth/#sthash.03JjexUV.dpuf

      Be sure and let us know how it is. From a not-Zionist proud-Jewish viewpoint.

  3. HarryLaw
    May 3, 2017, 6:33 pm

    Peace talks would be fine provided the Israelis stopped expanding settlements while the peace talks progressed, the Israelis will not do that, which means the talks [as always] are a delaying tactic to enable more settlement expansion.

  4. Citizen
    May 3, 2017, 8:51 pm

    Another shot at peace process…..yeah, sure.

    • eljay
      May 4, 2017, 7:52 am

      || Citizen: Another shot at peace process…..yeah, sure. ||

      Don’t be so cynical: Trump is “neutral” on I-P, values America’s unbreakable bond with Israel, believes in the “Jewish State”, loves the Jewish people more than anyone in the world and understands that the Palestinians are taught to hate Jews.

      With him handling the negotiations, what could possibly go wrong? ;-)

  5. HarryLaw
    May 4, 2017, 4:25 am

    ‘Abbas praises Trump’ http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-1.787129 which will prompt Trumps ruthless business instincts to come into play, “never give a sucker an even break”.

  6. Kay24
    May 4, 2017, 6:52 am

    Trump is naive. He thinks he” alone can fix it.” He is going to find the hard way, like healthcare and the Presidency, that it is not an easy job. Many other experienced leaders have tried to right this wrong, and failed. Israel is not going to to give up the status quo so easily, why should they when they have stolen more lands recently under Trump’s watch? It is sad that the Palestinians pin their hopes on Trump, because chances are slim he will be the honest broker in this matter, like so many other American leaders. I can understand the desperation Palestinian must feel, because they always seem to be thrown under the bus, even by other Arab nations for too long.

    Trump must have simply taken advantage of another photo op showing him to be a tough leader, and this statement by Pence show JUST HOW “SINCERE” THEY ARE IN BROKERING PEACE:

    “President Donald Trump is giving “serious consideration” to moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Vice-President Mike Pence said Tuesday, the day before a scheduled White House visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Trump is also “personally committed” to becoming the U.S. president who finally ends the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pence said.

    Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a politically charged act that would anger Palestinians who want east Jerusalem, which was captured in 1967, as a future capital and part of their sovereign territory. Such a move would also distance the U.S. from most of the international community, including its closest allies in Western Europe and the Arab world.”

    https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/05/02/trump-seriously-considering-moving-embassy-from-tel-aviv-to-jerusalem-pence-says.html

    • biggerjake
      May 5, 2017, 11:33 am

      This really shows how ignorant and even stupid that Trump really is.

      He has no understanding of the insidious nature of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine, he knows nothing of the history of the colonization and ethnic cleansing to which the Palestinians have been subjected…his go-to guy for everything in foreign relations is Jared Kushner whose family is well known to be big supporters of Israel and the settlements.

      The only thing that MIGHT work would be if he stopped any and all support for Israel, including military equipment and money, and instead offered to give it all to the Palestinians.

      But he is surely not going to do that. That would involve way too much actual study, critical thinking and realistic assessment of the past…

      • Tuyzentfloot
        May 5, 2017, 12:54 pm

        biggerjake:.The only thing that MIGHT work would be if he stopped any and all support for Israel, including military equipment and money, and instead offered to give it all to the Palestinians.

        It always feels so limiting to focus on military aid for Israel . Of course , ‘giving all the military aid to the palestinians’ would shake up things, especially if it’s to Hamas. But I suppose that was not the intent.
        Instead I’d like to point to the old game Israel likes to play with the Palestinians: when it suits them Palestinians are a domestic matter and nobody else’s business. At other times they prefer Palestinians to be an external matter and not Israel’s responsibility. All you have to do is refuse their classification.
        Do you know what amount of money other countries and organizations have invested and intend to invest in the West Bank and Gaza to compensate for damage Israel is doing to its own citizens? And how much money Israel is not investing in its own citizens while it is required to? Just bill it to Israel. It’s a lot.

  7. Ossinev
    May 4, 2017, 8:17 am

    Same old same old from Abbas desperately clinging on to his role as the arch collaborator and defender of Palestinian rights ( excepting of course their right to vote him out in an election)

    As for Trump going through the motions and I mean motions of “seeking peace” on guess what Israeli terms. As with all his predecessors bought and bent just in a different way. Obama only deviated slightly because the Yahoo openly treated him like a black Untermenschen. He wouldn`t even think about trying to treat Trump in the same way because he knows that Donald will remind him who the superpower is.

    Trump as with all his predecessors has to be seen to have ticked the “tried to achieve a settlement in the I/P conflict box”. I doubt if he as a blue blooded American is remotely interested in a poxy little country increasingly dominated by wailing whingers in funny hats and suits.

    Mind you given his track record if he finds out more about what “modern vibrant Western” Zioland has to offer he might decide to spend some time there:

  8. amigo
    May 4, 2017, 3:05 pm

    The effort to characterize Abbas as a non partner in peace and a terrorist and Holocaust denier will , (if not already) get under way.That is what happens to any Palestinian leader who might get inside the WH (Netnadyahu,s private domain) and tell the Palestinian side to POTUS.

    Nietandyahu is already stating that Abbas lied to Trump.

    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.787286

    Also , Trump deletes tweet that said it was an honor to host Abbas.

    http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.787364

    Looks as if Israel is deciding who Trump should be honored to meet.

  9. Ossinev
    May 5, 2017, 7:47 am

    @Amigo
    I bet he could be easily persuaded to meet the lassie in the cherry tomato bikini.I say lassie – I`m sure Donald uses another word but it escapes me for the moment.

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