Thursday, February 16

Trump and Netanyahu Meeting - Friendly Futility!

US President Donald Trump (R) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)
After watching the Trump-Netanyahu Joint Press Conference before the meeting between the two leaders, it became obvious that the conference was an exercise of “friendly futility”. The words of both PM Netanyahu and President Trump were a back-slapping exercise of a “budding friendship” and chemistry between the two leaders. There was no hint of any substance whatsoever apart from vague statements open to interpretation by a hungry bunch of press reporters seeking a scoop. A scoop -  it certainly was not apart from photo opportunities and lavish praise uttered between the two leaders for each other and Trump’s praise of Sarah Netanyahu for her “graciousness”.

President Donald Trump hinted to Netanyahu that he should “hold back” on settlements. Netanyahu promised to “examine” that issue. There was no commitment on either side, just vague, meaningless statements. Netanyahu was obviously minding his p’s and queues. He did not wish to say anything that would antagonize his extremist right wing flank led by Naftali Bennett, Leader of the extremist right wing party, Habayit Hayehudi, back home. No mention was made of the Two-State Solution. Trump somehow saved the day by saying that he will go with any solution, one-state or two-state depending on what the parties to the conflict want. Trump has no knowledge of the conflict at all or at best, a very superficial knowledge. Maybe it is better that way. President Trump is very unpredictable in any case and even if he would “close a deal” he may change his mind later because of a personal whim or fancy.

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump rejected the long-established US framework for Middle East peacemaking at a White House visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday as he announced his desire to reach "the ultimate deal." 1

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday that he asked U.S. President Donald Trump in their meeting to have the U.S. recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. 2

What was significant in this Joint Press Conference was what was not even mentioned. There was no mention of the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had misled the White House over his phone calls with the Russian ambassador to Washington. According to press reports, it was Flynn that helped organize the Trump-Netanyahu meeting. The cozy and admiring relationship between Trump and Putin also raises questions. Is it possible that Putin knows something about Trump that if revealed could result in Trump’s downfall? Time will tell. Putin of Russia is a wily and ruthless leader. He has well honed skills from his experience in the KGB.  

President Donald Trump said he would support the peace agreement Israel and Palestinians "like the best" in a joint press conference during which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu railed against Palestinian efforts to reach a deal. 3

In the biggest blow to Mr. Trump's nascent presidency, his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned after it emerged he held secret talks with Russia before entering the White House. 4

General Flynn's resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration's intentions towards Vladimir Putin's Russia, including statements by the president suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia,” Arizona Sen. John McCain said in a statement Tuesday. 5

The whole Trump-Netanyahu meeting appears to be a shallow show of meaningless platitudes uttered between the two leaders in order to satisfy those whose ears are tuned to what they wanted to hear.

An Israeli press reporter asked a question about the increase of anti-Semitic incidents on President Trump’s watch so far. While Trump did not deny the racism issue, he did not make any mention of anti-Semitism. Was he skirting the anti-Semitic issue because he did not wish to antagonize his anti-Semitic supporters, some of whom are in his administration? He skirted the issue in a way that satisfied everybody by making statements that the American people are very divided and under his watch and that “we will see a lot of love”.  

President Trump is a successful businessman and tycoon. He views the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as nothing more his desire to reach “the ultimate deal” in which his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will be a partner (mediator). A One-State or Two-State Solution makes no difference to him. As long as it is the “Art of the Deal”, it looks as if we have no room for any form of optimism even with improvement of Israel’s relationship with the Arab States as Netanyahu claims.

It appears that the Trump-Netanyahu meeting is nothing but a back-slapping, supercilious charade with no substance that can raise our hopes for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours.

2.15 Feb. 2017, Accessed 16 Feb. 2017.

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