Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will soon meet with President Trump at the White House for the first time. After strongly proclaiming support for Israel throughout his presidential campaign, Trump now has an opportunity to reach out to Benjamin Netanyahu’s counterpart. Here’s what top Middle East hands say about the critical summit.
Aaron David Miller, CNN.COM:“What Trump’s Meeting With Abbas Means For The Middle East”
“Whatever Trump’s strategy, and it’s not at all clear he has yet developed one, this meeting with Abbas and the Palestinians will be the first of many if the President is serious about involving his administration in a peacemaking effort. But unlike a real estate deal, he just can’t walk away when things go badly — and they will. Indeed, Trump will need to invest persistently and patiently. And even if he does, there’s not a shred of empirical evidence to indicate either Abbas or Netanyahu is ready to make big decisions on the core issues.”
Miller, vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars who served as a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations, lays out what he thinks Abbas and Trump hope to gain from their meeting. Miller views Abbas as “neither desperate for a deal nor determined to make one,” intent instead to reiterate the basic vision for a two-state solution and a resolution on borders, Jerusalem, and refugees. Though skeptical of Trump’s dedication and knowledge base to make a peace deal, Miller expects the president to use the visit to gauge whether Abbas is serious about reaching a deal.
The Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times:“What Abbas And Trump Can Do For Each Other”
“Obviously there are huge political obstacles to a settlement. But Trump was right in the sense that ‘reason’ dictates a settlement. The invitation to Abbas is a small but welcome sign that the Trump administration is willing to pursue one.”
The LA Times’ Editorial Board points to Trump’s meeting with Abbas as the latest in a series of policy shifts his administration has made that brings him closer to the political mainstream, changes that put him in a better position to possibly negotiate a peace deal.The board views this confab as an opportunity for Abbas to stave off pressure from the Palestinian street and Hamas and assert his seriousness in reaching a deal.
Caroline Glick, Jersusalem Post:“Our World: The Agenda For The Trump-Abbas Meeting”
“Since his is a new administration, Trump is willing to give Abbas the benefit of the doubt for three months. In that time Abbas needs to stop all financial transfers to terrorists and their families – in and out of prison; he needs to change the names of all the public sites now named after terrorists; and he needs to purge all anti-Jewish content from his PA-controlled media and mosques.”
Caroline Glick, a former foreign policy advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the deputy managing editor at the Jerusalem Post, strongly stakes out her position that the Palestinian Authority has “not lived up to their side of the bargain — on anything.” Pinning sole blame on the Palestinian government and people for the strife in the region, Glick judges it as imperative for Abbas to end support for terrorists and anti-Semitic elements during and following his White House visit. Otherwise, Trump must abandon any support for Palestinian statehood and recognition of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
Hanan Ashrawi, CNN.com“Trump Has To Make A Big Call On Middle East Peace Deal”
“If Trump is truly committed to “striking a deal,” then it is imperative he distance himself from the repeated failures of the past. ‘Business as usual’ will produce only the same results that have led us to the current untenable status quo. To produce a just and workable vision of peace requires Trump to bypass the Israel lobby, reject the rhetoric of hate and the Israeli pre-emptive campaign to slander and malign Abbas. Adopting dehumanizing language and extremist positions would only embolden the most hard-line, bigoted and anti-peace elements in Israel that have been instrumental in creating the current crisis.”
Ashrawi, a leading Palestinian political figure, frames this meeting as an opportunity for Trump to embrace a different path that acknowledges Israeli abuses and faithfully listens to Palestinian grievances. If the President really wants a deal, he cannot follow the strategy of past administrations, which teamed up with Israel against the PA — Trump must be a true mediator between the two sides.