Team Trump Set to Arrive Amid Confusion
The table has been set for the arrival of US President Donald Trump’s peace negotiating team, but both the Israelis and Palestinians remain skeptical that the latest American foray into brokering peace between the two sides will produce any tangible results. Underscoring concerns, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a visiting contingent of Israeli opposition party members on Sunday that he has had no response from as many as 20 communications with Team Trump, each time asking that Trump envoys extol the need for a commitment to the so-called “two-state solution” directly to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Abbas reportedly told the Israeli visitors that he doesn’t understand how the Trump government is functioning relative to the search for peace because “there is chaos in the administration.” According to those who attended the Ramallah meeting, Abbas, who severed security ties with Israel as part of the Temple Mount crisis in July, complained that Netanyahu has been unresponsive to his outreach to restore the relationship. In particular, Abbas was upset that Netanyahu fails to credit him for his efforts to maintain the peace while the Israeli security echelon speaks highly of his efforts. On Saturday evening, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority met in Cairo and reiterated that the unified position of the Arab world to be presented again to the Americans is that “there will be no peace without the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.” Public opinion has not warmed to the prospects of a Trump-brokered agreement at a time when virtually all of the players are functioning under clouds. Experts question whether the current roster of players has the gravitas to deliver at all. Abbas, who is often referred to as serving in the 12th year of a four-year term, is being circled by political vultures sounding his demise; Netanyahu’s legal woes mount as prosecutors pursue four separate corruption investigations at once – an indictment in any of which will force the PM to resign; all while the Trump administration remains a diplomatic unknown.