Donald Trump just ended a 28-hour visit to Israel and the West Bank that was rich with color, atmospherics, symbolism and lofty talk about prospects for peace and commitment to peace, but appallingly short on content. During his Middle East tour, President Trump did not refer even once to the two-state solution, and said almost nothing about what Israelis and Palestinians must do in the short run to prepare the ground for future peace.
Trump’s objective may have been winning the trust of the Israeli public in order for him to later serve as an honest, effective broker in future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. His hollow visit may have been a part of a plan.
But there are too many indications that President Trump lacks the patience, the strategy and the staff to launch the kind of serious, committed peace-brokership initiative that Israelis and Palestinians need in order to restart a meaningful peace process.
Sooner rather than later, Trump will find that after many failed attempts by his predecessors, brokering peace between Israelis and Palestinians requires more than pomp and platitudes. If he is to effectively lead an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, Trump will have to make a strong commitment to a coherent vision, and the only viable vision is a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
He will also realize that while Arab governments in the region may play an important assisting role in advancing peace, the so-called “ultimate deal” will have to be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians. Saudis and Emiratis cannot and should not do the diplomatic heavy lifting for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Trump will also soon realize that both Israelis and Palestinians see through an American standoffish peace-brokership posture, even when it’s hidden behind pompous promises to “get it done.” They see through it, and the extremists among them immediately fill the non-action vacuum with peace-spoiling actions such as stepped-up violence and settlement construction.
As we at Americans for Peace Now have stated before, if Trump takes action indicating that he is seriously pursuing a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, we will leverage our influence and experience to support him.