US President Donald Trump has come to Israel--and has gone. In his wake, he leaves (at least) two questions.
First, will he follow up on his calls to Abbas to stop incitement, stop paying terrorists, and end the culture of hate so prevalent throughout the Palestinian Authority (PA)?
This question puts Abbas stage-center. How he responds to this call will tell us if peace is possible.
Second, will Trump actually help Israel?
This second question is most important. If Trump isn't balanced in his approach, he could become just another US President who attempts (yet again) to achieve 'peace' by (1) giving Abbas a free hand against Israel in order (2) to concentrate on pressuring Israel to give away ancient Jewish homeland to those who want to take over Israel any way they can.
We don't know the answers to these questions. it's simply too early.
But Israel does know this. Trump sees himself as a 'deal-maker'. Trump thinks he knows how to 'make a deal' in the Middle East. He's already started.
But his first steps aren't balanced. Although he has publicly appealed to Abbas to change, we see little evidence he has been tougher in private.
In Israel, however, he's been very tough in private. He wants Israel to give land away before negotiations for peace begin (jewishpress); he asks Israel to give unilateral economic aid to the PA before the PA has offered anything in exchange (arutzsheva); and he's motivated Israel (directly or indirectly) to consider creating a $50 million project for improvements to Arab East Jerusalem neighborhoods (timesofisrael), before anyone in those neighborhoods have offered anything in exchange.
In the meantime, there's been no news from Abbas that he's felt any pressure from Trump. The only post-Trump-visit report coming from Ramallah (the Abbas seat of power) is a request from Abbas that the US pressure Israel over PA terrorist prisoners in Israeli prisons who have gone on a hunger strike.
That's not a sign of Trump pressuring Abbas for peace. It's an Abbas request for the US to increase its pressure on Israel.
This isn't good news for Israel. It's the kind of news we once heard from the Obama Administration, not from Trump. But it's precisely what we're getting from Trump.
A recent Haaretz political cartoon presents one view of what Trump's 'peace' plans might do here. The point of the cartoon may not happen. However, given the direction Trump's work here has taken to date, this cartoon may be at least half-correct. Take a look:
|Amosr Biderman, haaretz, May 20, 2017.|
It hasn't been proven as yet that this cartoon assessment will be accurate. If Trump offends Abbas, it might be. But that remains a big question.
Of course, if Trump doesn't pressure Abbas about terror, incitement and the PA's 'culture of hate-and-war', then this cartoon will only be half-right. Israel will suffer.
US President Trump may be the 'deal-maker' he apparently thinks he is. But his 'deal', may turn into the proverbial 'cure' that kills the patient--and bring even more terrorism and war to Israel.