Editorial |

Harness Trump’s Determination to Attain the Ultimate Middle East Deal

If the Israeli government truly seeks peace as it claims, it must use this opportunity to bravely pave a path to a diplomatic solution with the Palestinians.

Haaretz Editorial
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Trump's 'art of the deal' backfires: By attempting to appease Netanyahu as well as Abbas, the U.S. president angers both leaders
Trump's 'art of the deal' backfires: By attempting to appease Netanyahu as well as Abbas, the U.S. president angers both leadersCredit: Amos Biderman
Haaretz Editorial

Donald Trump is the president of the United States. This is no alternative fact. His enigmatic personality and his unusual behavior are factors that Israel and the world have to take into account. However, because we are talking about the president of the most powerful nation in the world, no country — and certainly not Israel, whose greatest ally is the United States — has the luxury of ignoring him or of belittling his messages.

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President Trump is arriving in Israel today for a visit. It seems that his trip to the Middle East is boosting his spirits, which were sagging in the wake of the difficulties awaiting him in Washington. Here he can act in his favorite way, as a businessman closing deals. Since he was elected, he has been consistent in his determination to attain the ultimate deal in the Middle East. In his joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after their first official meeting at the White House, Trump said he found it less important how a deal would look between the Israelis and Palestinians, as long as there was a deal. “So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” he said.

It’s a refreshing approach because it reminds the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the entire world, that the goal is ending the blood –drenched Arab-Israeli conflict and that the will of both sides — and only that will — is relevant to the question of the type of solution. The United States, Europe and others can and must push the sides to reach a historic compromise.

>> Trump's peace bid: After Riyadh speech, Trump comes to Israel as a messianic opportunist |Saudi proposal to Israel could be the stuff of Trump’s ultimate Mideast deal | Trump’s plan for Mideast peace: Do the opposite of everything Obama | Why it's convenient for Netanyahu to play dumb ahead of Trump's visit >>

However, how this compromise will look is first and foremost a matter for the Israelis and the Palestinians. Yet even Trump has already realized that there is no solution but the two-state solution. Evidence of this is his demand from Israel to stop building settlements, and his recognition of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

During the eight years of President Barack Obama’s term, the Israeli government complained about America’s hostile attitude and about a discriminatory policy by the United Nations and its institutions. So far, in his own way, Trump has demonstrated sensitivity to Israel’s hurts, and has been careful to back his demands of Israel (to stop building settlements and to act rationally) with declarations of love and respect. Washington’s tone toward Israel has completely changed since his election. The same is true at the United Nations, thanks to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

If the Israeli government truly seeks peace as it claims, it must harness Trump’s determination in order to bravely draft its path to a diplomatic solution. The Israeli right is torn between the annexationist wing and the wing that believes the only solution is the division of the country one way or another. Those who oppose annexation, most of the nation, must take advantage of Trump’s special temperament by joining together to say no to the annexationist right and opening a new chapter in the Middle East.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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