Can dealmaker make the ultimate deal?
- Author: Leroy Wright May 28, 2017,
May 28, 2017, 6:28
"No one can say in the Middle East what will be the Saudi position five or 10 years from now", Steinitz said.
Trump travelled to the Middle East to show the world American leadership has returned.
In its official itinerary for Trump's visit to Israel and the disputed territories, the White House referred to Abbas as the leader of "Palestine", which could be construed as a form of recognition of an independent Palestinian state.
Washington announced a $110-billion U.S. sale of ships, tanks and the latest anti-missile systems to Saudi Arabia on Saturday as Trump began a two-day visit to the Gulf state before travelling on to Israel.
"I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians", Trump told a press conference at PA headquarters in Bethlehem, without mentioning the possibility of Palestinian statehood.
"Making peace, however, will not be easy, we all know - both sides will face tough decisions - but with determination, compromise and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal", Trump said. US officials have said Trump shared Israeli intelligence in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Under the Obama administration, much to Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Israel's dismay, the United States and Shiite-led Iran held the first direct talks since the 1979 Iran Islamic Revolution to negotiate a deal over the Iran nuclear issue. "Big, big, lovely difference", Trump said to loud applause from his audience, which included members of Netanyahu's Cabinet and other officials. "It's not just the Saudis, its also the Emirates, also the Qataris, also the Iranians; they are all acquiring weapons". "I would like to reiterate our commitment to co-operate with you in order to make peace and forge an historic peace deal with the Israelis", he said.
Palestinians had been holding a protest outside the Church, the celebrated birthplace of Jesus Christ, in solidarity with over 1,500 prisoners now on hunger strike in Israeli jails. It has received little public attention-far less than the incitement issue. He gushed with praise for Israel and, by standing in silent contemplation at the Western Wall, signalled his deep respect for Jewish tradition and the Jewish bond to Jerusalem. He noted that "Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded".
Trump's two-day visit to the Jewish state came immediately before the Israeli holiday of Jerusalem Day, which this year marks the 50th anniversary of Israel's reunification of the holy city during the Six-Day War.
Yet some Israeli officials are less certain of Trump.
One might have thought that a president who won office in part by rejecting interventionism would have taken the opportunity to tell Abbas and Netanyahu to work it out between themselves.
Daniel Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel, said that while Trump might have appeared warm in public, in private he probably made some hard asks of both sides.