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March 22, 2017

Trump and Israel


March 22, 2017

The right-wingers have been bamboozled. Last week, the Dutch epitomised why hatemongering can’t work everywhere all the time. Modi, Trump and Netanyahu were fortunate enough to have come out victorious – one way or the other. But, Geert Wilders might have been experiencing some sleepless nights. One hopes the French have been keeping an eye on the Dutch elections. It would be better if they replicate the results come April 23. Nonetheless, for Marine Le Pen, it surely was a nightmarish call.

It just doesn’t seem to be the most opportune time to be a member of the far Right. The Jewish right had pinned all their hopes to Trump. But, here’s the catch: Trump’s warning over the settlement issue and a friendly call between him and Mahmoud Abbas is something the Jewish right have been panicking over since last week.

And, to make matters worse, it is being reported that Abbas is going to visit the White House next month. Trump has promised them David Friedman, but for now, all they’re going to get is to cringe over Abbas’ expected visit to the US next month.

The 10-minute conversation between Trump and Abbas might have done the trick. “The time has come to make a deal”, the POTUS told the Palestinian president. But, the Left should just cut the jubilations short. Just as Naftali Bennett and other right-wingers in Netanyahu’s cabinet erred by being too quick to assume Trump’s ‘bandwagoning’, the Jewish left shouldn’t be too felicitous at this point in time. This is particularly true regarding the US President contemplating a peace deal with Abbas. Trump is, in all likelihood, going to keep the tradition of engaging both the parties throughout his presidential term and, if I’m allowed to put it so, end up disappointing them all.

It’s interesting to note that Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, is back from an official visit to Israel. His meeting with Abbas might have led to all of this latest brouhaha. For every Middle East analyst, the next few weeks are going to be intriguing enough.

Whether you like him or not, the fact remains the same. He may not vouch for a two-state solution, but he wouldn’t put the status-quo at risk, either. This is how the Americans have historically dealt with the Palestine issue, and expecting Trump to sidestep on that is still a long shot.

Coming back to the peace accord. The question to ask is; whom to talk to? Abbas or Hamas? The division between them is quite significant, and the talks between Abbas and Trump wouldn’t go down well with Hamas, anyway. No doubt the Americans have their money on Abbas, but let’s not forget that Mossad has recently hinted at initiating reinvigorated negotiations with Hamas.

Consider this: If Israel can bring Hamas to the table, then the deal is pretty much over. They’ll have the terrorist threat eliminated or curbed to a large extent. Why, the question remains, is Israel ever going to support the Abbas-Trump dialogue? For ‘Gideon’s Spies’, it is Hamas – not Abbas – that needs to be neutralised.

In all of this knottiness, Trump will offer Bibi everything while providing nothing substantial. Look how he is going about his business in the Middle East. He appoints David Friedman as the US ambassador to Israel but conveys reservations to Netanyahu on the settlement issue. He vows to eliminate all the threats Israel is faced with, but offers Abbas a peace deal. He promises Saudis a ‘just Israeli-Palestinian deal’, but keeps the Far Right in Israel in check by refusing to alter the counterterrorism strategies in MENA.

Trump is playing it all too smart. He is not actually sidestepping the Jewish Right. But Bennett and the likes should not remain so optimistic about Trump. But then again, hope springs eternal. To sum this up, Netanyahu and his team shouldn’t expect Trump to toe their line at the cost of the other parties to the conflict.

Speaking of the Far Right, Pakistanis must remember that right-wingers will remain right-wingers wherever they are.


The writer is an independent researcher.  Email: [email protected]



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