All pomp and no substance in Trump's historic Israel visit

Trump's visit hit all the right spots but won't likely have lasting effect.

May 23, 2017 16:33
2 minute read.
U.S. President Donald Trump looks towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

U.S. President Donald Trump looks towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while delivering an address at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. . (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)


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During his lightning visit to Israel, US President Donald Trump said all the right things to leave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers cheering like they were pubescent teens at a Justin Bieber show.

Iran will never get a nuclear bomb on his watch, he reiterated at the Israel Museum on Tuesday afternoon. There can’t be peace if terrorism is rewarded, he told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that morning in Bethlehem. He loudly and clearly referred to the Holocaust and six million Jews at Yad Vashem.

And at all his public appearances, he managed to avoid using the term “two-state solution.” It was more than Netanyahu could have hoped for.

The question is, what now? Despite his insistence that Israel and the Palestinians can reach his coveted “deal,” Trump clearly doesn’t have a plan of how to get there.

When Trump said on Monday, “We’re going to get there... eventually. I hope,” it was a far cry from his early-in-office statement that making peace in the region wouldn’t be that difficult. In his public comments in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, he stuck to generalities and displayed a shallow grasp of the intricacies of the region, preferring to offer platitudes about “Jews, Muslims and Christians living in peace and security.”
JPost reporter Herb Keinon analysis of Trump's Israel visit

Trump seems be banking on the encouraging signs he said came out of his trip to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with King Salman. Trump’s perception of Saudi willingness to be part of a coalition to fight radical Islam was coupled, in his remarks in Bethlehem, with the notion that an Israel-Palestinian deal would ignite that cooperation, help crush ISIS and forge stability in the region.

That might not have pleased Netanyahu, who has long supported the opposite tactic of bringing moderate Arab states into a coalition that would bolster both sides in an effort to forge an Israeli-Palestinian deal.

Trump’s takeaway from his time here are that both Abbas and his friend “Benjamin” are “ready for peace.” He also cautioned, however, that the impetus has to come from within and can’t be reliant on an outside body like the United States.

After Trump’s helicopter flew off to the airport to whisk him away to the Vatican for the next stop on his Great Religions Tour, Netanyahu and Abbas were likely back at their offices unloosening their ties and going back to what they’ve been doing for years – not talking to each other. Until the next US election, they’re off the hook.

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