Trump’s message to both Israel and Palestinians: I’m in no one’s pocket
Analysis: If Netanyahu thought he had the ‘green light’ to expand settlements and build new ones as soon as Trump took office, the US president has made it clear in recent days that he is the one setting the tone. At this stage, he supports the two-state solution and plans to put a lot of effort into reaching a peace agreement.
On the eve of Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival at the White House for a meeting with Donald Trump, the US president is signaling to the Israeli prime minister his limits: He will be able to build within the existing settlements, but not to establish new ones and not to expand them beyond their borders. In short, he is telling him: Remain within the large settlement blocs. A building spree will be unacceptable.
The wording the White House chose to use in its statement were soft, but even with softness one can kill something that Trump or his hyperactive and unexpected team of advisors don’t approve of.
If the prime minister thought that he had the “green light” as soon as Trump took office, the president has made it clear that he is the one setting the tone. According to a special statement issued by the White House, “The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”
The wording is delicate, but the message is clear: Trump is making a further change in his stance on this issue, and at this stage, particularly after meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Thursday, he supports the two-state solution and plans to put a lot of pressure in a bid to reach a peace agreement through his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been tasked with this mission. Trump is not a man of small details.
So far, he has engaged in hooligan diplomacy: He hung up on the Australian prime minister just because the latter dared to ask whether he would honor former President Barack Obama’s commitment to take in 1,250 refugees who are in a detention camp in Australia. He proposed to the Mexican president to send American troops to take care of the “bad hombres,” he warned Iran in a tweet that he would not be as kind as Obama – and on Friday night, he even imposed further sanctions on Tehran.
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