Trump tries hand at Mideast peace

‘We will get it done,’ U.S. pres­i­dent tells Pales­tinian leader in White House meet­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MATTHEW LEE WASH­ING­TON —

De­spite bleak prospects for suc­cess, United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump promised on Wed­nes­day “to do what­ever is nec­es­sary” to forge an Is­raeli-Pales­tinian peace deal.

At a White House meet­ing with Pales­tinian leader Mah­moud Ab­bas, Trump pledged to rein­vig­o­rate the stalled Mideast peace process that has be­dev­illed his pre­de­ces­sors and said he would serve as “a me­di­a­tor, an ar­bi­tra­tor or a fa­cil­i­ta­tor” be­tween the two sides. “We will get it done,” Trump con­fi­dently told Ab­bas.

“I’m com­mit­ted to work­ing with Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans to reach an agree­ment,” Trump said. “But any agree­ment can­not be im­posed by the United States or by any other na­tion. The Pales­tini­ans and Is­raelis must work to­gether to reach an agree­ment that al­lows both peo­ples to live, wor­ship, and thrive and pros­per in peace.”

The source of Trump’s op­ti­mism was not im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. He of­fered no details about his ef­fort or how it would be any dif­fer­ent from at­tempts over the past two decades dur­ing which for­mer pres­i­dents Bill Clin­ton, Ge­orge W. Bush and Barack Obama all tried and failed. Pales­tinian of­fi­cials said after the meet­ing that Trump had not raised any spe­cific pro­pos­als to restart ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Asked what dis­tin­guishes Trump’s plans from pre­vi­ous at­tempts, White House spokesper­son Sean Spicer said merely: “The man is dif­fer­ent.”

The peace process has been stalled since 2014, and there have been no se­ri­ous at­tempts to restart ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Like pre­vi­ous U.S. lead­ers, Trump faces nu­mer­ous ob­sta­cles in the long-shot bid. They in­clude the con­tours of a po­ten­tial Pales­tinian state, Jerusalem’s sta­tus and the ques­tion of Pales­tinian refugees. Com­pli­cat­ing it all are the ve­he­ment Pales­tinian crit­i­cisms of Is­raeli set­tle­ment con­struc­tion and Is­raeli com­plaints that Pales­tini­ans are in­cit­ing vi­o­lence.

Ab­bas in­sisted he is com­mit­ted to peace, but he made clear Pales­tinian de­mands for a sep­a­rate state based on bor­ders that ex­isted be­fore the 1967 Mideast war, a cap­i­tal in East Jerusalem and the return of Pales­tinian refugees.

“Our strate­gic op­tion, our strate­gic choice is to bring about peace based on the vi­sion of two states, a Pales­tinian state, with its cap­i­tal of East Jerusalem, that lives in peace and sta­bil­ity with the state of Is­rael based on the bor­ders of 1967,” he said.

POOL, GETTY IMAGES

U.S Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shakes hands with Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas of the Pales­tinian Author­ity after a joint state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

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