Author: Adam Rasgon
Posted on May 5, 2017
A day after President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met for the first time, Palestinian experts agreed that the American president still has not developed a clear policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Talal Okal, a political analyst based in the Gaza Strip, said that while Trump has stated that he wants to restart negotiations, he has refrained from taking a clear position on a number of the core issues, such as the two-state solution.
At the joint press conference with Abbas, Trump said he wants Israel and the Palestinians to achieve a “historic agreement,” without elaborating on the parameters of such a deal.
Okal said that if Trump is serious about making peace, he will outline his vision and pressure the parties to agree to it.
“Trump may find it easier to say he does not want to impose an agreement on the parties, but the peace process is in a crisis that requires intervention,” he said.
Israel and the Palestinians have not held direct peace talks since the collapse of US-sponsored negotiations in May 2014.
Jihad Harb, a political analyst based in Ramallah, echoed Okal, saying that Trump has not “crystallized a policy on the peace process.”
“Trump has not offered a vision for ending the conflict or even managing the conflict,” Harb said.
“All we learned from yesterday’s meeting is that he still wants a peace deal.”
Despite seemingly lacking a clear vision, Trump has dedicated considerable time to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump has hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas and multiple Arab leaders at the White House, discussing the conflict with all contingents.
He has also dispatched his special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, to the region twice and has consistently commented on the issue in interviews.
“He has shown his interest, but that is not enough to solve the conflict,” Harb said. “He needs to say what he thinks.”
Trump is slated to arrive in Israel on May 22. He may also visit the Palestinian territories. Abbas told Wafa, the official PA news outlet, that he invited Trump on Wednesday to visit the West Bank.