Archive for the ‘Joint press conference’ category

On Israel, Trump Confuses only the Confused

February 17, 2017

On Israel, Trump Confuses only the Confused, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, February 17, 2017

(Or perhaps only the willfully confused, some of whom apparently prefer a “final solution” to a mere two state solution, are confused. — DM)

The Washington Post claims that President Trump’s remarks about Israel have led to confusion about how he views the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. Reporters William Booth and Anne Gearan say that Israelis are confused, and they site conflicting interpretations of Trump’s several statements.

But Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, whom the Post also quotes, gets to the bottom of the alleged confusion. He says “everyone interprets this as they see fit.”

In reality, Trump’s comments were remarkably clear. Let’s start with the one that got most of the attention: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

Trump was saying that if the Israelis and the Palestinians like a two-state solution, he likes it too. Otherwise, he doesn’t.

This is wise. A two-state solution makes sense only if both parties want it. If that’s not the case, there is no sense in America trying to impose it, and Trump won’t waste his time pushing this option. Or so he is saying.

Trump also said to Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Both sides will have to make compromises; you know that, right?” Netanyahu responded: “Both sides.”

Again, there’s nothing puzzling here. “Both sides” means both sides.

Coupled with his statement that he likes the solution both parties like, Trump is maximizing the likelihood of a peace agreement (although, to me, the odds of reaching one remain extremely low). President Obama’s approach was to obsess over a two-state solution and demand major compromises by Israel. The Palestinians believed they could sit back and wait for America to extract such compromises.

Trump has made it clear that both sides need to make compromises and has signaled that he won’t focus on obtaining them from Israel alone. If both parties don’t make concessions on behalf of a two-state solution, he will conclude that this is not the solution both parties like. And he won’t like it either. Or so he is saying.

Trump also told Netanyahu: “I’d like you to hold off on settlements for a little bit.” On the surface, this looks like an attempt to obtain a small concession from Israel. However, I agree with Charles Krauthammer that Trump was trying to bolster Netanyahu’s position in relation to hard-line Israeli politicians who are pushing for a major expansion of settlements, including the building of new ones.

A sensible approach to settlements is permit the natural growth of existing blocs — no community can be expected not to build out as its population expands — but to forego, for “a little bit,” major territorial expansion which would escalate tension, hurt Israel’s international standing, and perhaps make a peace agreement even more difficult to achieve.

Trump’s statement is consistent with this thinking, which, I gather, is the thinking of Netanyahu.

Only the confused are genuinely puzzled by Trump’s statements. Those in the American mainstream media who suggest otherwise are probably just trying to make the American president look confused.

Trump & Netanyahu agree: Israel-Gulf peace first

February 15, 2017

Trump & Netanyahu agree: Israel-Gulf peace first, DEBKAfile, February 15, 2017

“One state, two states, I like this state,” Donald Trump joked, turning to visiting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when they addressed a wide-ranging, friendly news conference Wednesday, Feb.15, at the White House, ahead of their face-to-face talks.

Trump reacted positively to Netanyahu’s proposal to broaden the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to a regional effort as a “very important” new idea “on a broader canvas” which he believed could succeed. Netanyahu said that the regional fears of Iran also presented an opportunity for cooperation against the Islamic State and radical Islamic terror.

DEBKAfile reports that these sentiments reflected agreement in principle between Trump and Netanyahu to seek an Israeli peace accord with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates as the lead-in to negotiations for an accord with the Palestinians. Egypt, Jordan and Turkey with whom Israel already has normal relations would jump in later. This deal fits in with the US plan reported more than once on these pages for a regional peace between the Sunni Arab nations and the Jewish State.

Some of the spadework may have been performed by CIA Director Mike Pompeo who paid a secret visit to Ramallah Wednesday morning for talks with Mahmoud Abbas, after trips to Ankara and Riyadh, following which Turkey upgraded its diplomatic mission in Israel

This plan was the fulcrum for the president to push back against the two-state solution advocated by the Obama administration as the cure for the conflict. It remains to be seen if this plan takes on life outside the White House and in the region’s capitals.

Trump realistically called on Israel to “hold back settlements,” show flexibility and make compromises for a peace deal. He urged the Palestinians to “get rid of hate starting in the schoolroom.” Whatever the Israelis and Palestinians agree to in direct talks – one state or two – “I will accept,.” he said, adding “I believe we will have a deal that is better than many Israelis think.”

In answer to a question on settlements, Netanyahu replied that he did not believe they were the core of the conflict and the issue could be addressed in peace negotiations. With regard to a two-state formula, the prime minister said this was a label and he preferred to deal in substance. An independent state was contingent on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, giving up incitement to violence and Israel remaining responsible for security up to the Jordan River. “Do we want another failed state, another terrorist state?” he asked.

Netanyahu commended the US President for pledging that Iran must never, ever obtain a nuclear weapon and stressed that its missile program was a threat – not only to Israel and the region, but to America due to the ICBMs under development and Iran’s plans for a nuclear arsenal.

President Trump greeted the Israeli leader with stress on the “unbreakable bond with our cherished ally, Israel” their cooperation against violence and terror and shared values in respect of human life. He said that his first sit-down with Netanyahu as president would be the first of “many productive meetings.”

The president made the exceptional gestures of welcoming Netanyahu and his wife Sarah at the door of the White House, with the First Lady at his side. The couples exchanged warm embraces.

Melania Trump took a seat beside Sarah Netanyahu in the front row of the news conference. They were joined by Ivanka and Jared Kushner, who holds the post of special adviser to the president.

Netanyahu ends his Washington visit Thursday after meeting Vice President Mike Pence and leaders of Congress.

President Trump Participates in a Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu

February 15, 2017

President Trump Participates in a Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu, The White House via YouTube, February 15, 2017

(The press conference begins at approximately 45 minutes into the video. — DM)