Thursday May 4th 2017
To say it sounded surreal would be an understatement. Trump was not just meeting the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the White House, but was sounding positively effusive.
“I will do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement, to mediate, to arbitrate, anything they’d like to do,” he said. “I would love to be a mediator or an arbitrator or a facilitator and we will get this done.”
He went on: “Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Let’s see if we can prove them wrong.”
Abbas, seasoned diplomat that he is, may have thought to himself: “I can’t believe this will happen, but we’d better do everything we can to encourage him just in case it does. You never know.”
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “the Palestinians have put Trump’s ego in their crosshairs, and they are emptying their entire arsenal of fawning phrases to hit their target. Everyone is in on the act, from Abbas all the way to Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who also paid tribute on Wednesday to Trump the almighty.”
Trump has already laid claim to being the most unpredictable president ever, so it is no surprise that he is blowing hot and cold on the Israel-Palestine issue. He could switch back tomorrow to being the most pro-Israeli president of all time.
He may just be unrealistic about what he could persuade the Palestinians to accept. But what is clear is that he wants to try. According to Haaretz again, “in all the conversations that Netanyahu and Abbas’ advisers have had these past weeks with senior White House officials they were told the same thing – that the issue is a top priority for the president.”