Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Does Trump Have a Plan for Israel and the Palestinians?

 

When Trump first started to campaign, his statements about the Israel-Palestinian conflict were contradictory and unclear. I think he was trying to find his footing on this complicated and controversial subject. If we look at the journey we’ve all taken with him, we might draw some interesting projections about the future. I’d like to reflect on some of the highlights of his candidacy and his time as President regarding his actions on Israel and the Palestinians.

During his candidacy, he told the Republican National Convention regarding the peace process, “I alone can fix it.” But The Atlantic pointed out:

…the peace process is not a matter of willpower, and it’s not a matter of one person, even the U.S. president. Trump seemed to finally start to grasp just how advanced the level of difficulty on this is while giving remarks with Netanyahu later on Monday night [May 2017].

‘I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all,’ he said. ‘But I have a feeling that we’re going to get there. Eventually.’

Trump then sent Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the president’s lead envoy in the Middle East, to discuss peace talks, first in June, then in August 2017. He asked them to focus on the fight against extremism, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and future economic steps as well as plans for security, stability, and prosperity. No plans for arranging talks came out of those meetings, but Kushner and Greenblatt stated they were working on a peace plan with Dina Powell, Deputy National Security Advisor and David Friedman, Ambassador to Israel. I also suspect that they reinforced Trump’s understanding that negotiating peace was going to be very difficult.

The next major step by Trump just happened in December 2017: he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Please note he didn’t “declare” this truth, but simply acknowledged it.) Trump said:

‘I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interest of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians,’ he said from the White House.

The president said that since 1995, when Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, his predecessors had delayed implementing the act because of fears that it would harm efforts to achieve a peace agreement in the Middle East.

But, he added, ‘after more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.’

Trump’s decision to make this statement after more than 20 years of stalling by other presidents indicates a shift in his perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think he realizes that delays in that decision have contributed nothing to the peace process. I also believe he recognizes that the chance of the Palestinians coming to the table and making any concessions is highly unlikely. And finally, I think he is making a statement to the world that dealing with the reality of an intransigent Palestinian leadership, and the right of Israel to exist and claim its homeland should be on everyone’s radar screen.

In the meantime, the Palestinians have not stopped their terrorist activities, particularly from Gaza. Congress created the Taylor Force Act, which was intended to stop our indirect funding of terrorism. The original bill had two major factors: that funding to the Palestinians would be stopped if they did not 1) recognize Israel’s right to exist, and 2) commit to stopping the payment to family members of terrorists. On December 7, the bill passed the House — with both of those critical factors missing — and has been sent to the Senate. It’s unclear whether those points will be restored or ignored.

I find it interesting that with the passing of what might be a feckless bill, President Trump authorized Nikki Haley’s threat to withdraw funds from the UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). Caroline Glick reports on the significance of this potential action:

If Iran is Hamas’s greatest state sponsor, UNRWA is its partner. UNRWA is headquartered in Gaza. It is the UN’s single largest agency. It has more than 11,500 employees in Gaza alone. UNRWA’s annual budget is in excess of $1.2 billion. Several hundred million each year is spent in Gaza. The US is UNRWA’s largest funder. In 2016, it transferred more than $368m. to UNRWA.

For the past decade, the Center for Near East Policy Research has copiously documented how UNRWA in Gaza is not an independent actor. Rather it is an integral part of Hamas’s regime in Gaza.

She also reported:

Missiles, rockets and mortars have been stored in and fired from UNRWA schools and clinics.

UNRWA teachers and students have served as human shields for Hamas missile launches against Israel.

UNRWA ambulances have been used to ferry weapons, including mortars, and terrorists.

UNRWA officials have served as Hamas mouthpieces in their propaganda war against Israel.

It sounds like Trump has figured out the potential of a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians is not good. He has spoken to Netanyahu and Abbas; he has received assessments from Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, who met with both groups and their leaders; he has watched the biased behavior of the United Nations toward Israel and the Palestinians; he has seen the rejection of Israel’s policies and the pandering to Palestinians from countries all over the world; and the Palestinians recently rejected the support of the US in the peace process. It seems pretty clear: Donald Trump is developing a plan for the US role with Israel and the Palestinians and he isn’t looking for permission to actualize his goals.

What do you think?

There are 30 comments.

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  1. Dave Sussman Contributor

    Susan Quinn: In the meantime, the Palestinians have not stopped their terrorist activities, particularly from Gaza. Congress created the Taylor Force Act, which was intended to stop our indirect funding of terrorism. The original bill had two major factors: that funding to the Palestinians would be stopped if they did not 1) recognize Israel’s right to exist, and 2) commit to stopping the payment to family members of terrorists. On December 7, the bill passed the House — with both of those critical factors missing — and has been sent to the Senate. It’s unclear whether those points will be restored or ignored.

    Excellent Susan, and you raise some important points which are rarely reported (UNRWA). Why do you think the House removed these critical elements from the bill?

    • #1
    • January 8, 2018, at 11:56 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Palestinian leadership can never voluntarily accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish State. Such a move would have to be forced upon them. The US should not do so and, I think, probably could not do so given our other interests in the region. Only other ME countries could/should do so. As long as the PE can count on a ME sponsor, currently Iran but others could and probably would step in if that county undergoes a revolution and becomes unwilling or unable to continue in that role, they will continue to oppose any plan that relies on their recognition of the State of Israel. I don’t foresee any scenario that could change this basic problem for the near or intermediate future. Right now, Saudi Arabia is more friendly with Israel than it has been in the past but that is based on Iran being their current mutual problem. If either SA or Iran becomes truly dominant, neither will prefer Israeli security over the current stalemate and that would worsen Israel’s security problem. Probably the best thing for Israel is the stand-off between SA and Iran unless it becomes a shooting war.
    I do think Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol is the correct one, but it will not move forward a peace process than has no real prospect for any substantial progress under current conditions in my opinion.

    • #2
    • January 8, 2018, at 12:13 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Call me skeptical about the notion that “he” Donald Trump has a plan on any of this. Maybe some else in the administration has a plan, maybe Micky Haley has a plan, but Trump. I remain skeptical. But considering that nothing has really worked, what is happening now doesn’t seem any worse than what went on before. I think the real change if there will be any will come from the need of Arab states to band together against Iran, and Israel proves a valuable partner in such an alliance. With less Arab interest in promoting the Palestinian cause they will be able to think they can hold out for something better. So maybe they will cut a deal. Or maybe it all blows up into another Intifada with more bombings, stabbings, and rockets…

    Maybe if an opportunity develops the Trump administration will be quick enough to jump on it. The thing to be said positive about Trump is that his great ignorance allows him the confidence to believe he can do something. I think most people would just think to not let things get worse, and so favored the status quo. Which is why even people highly sympathetic to Israel still held back on the capital announcement. Why rock the boat?

    As with all things Trump I think we shall see what happens. The people around him on this matter I have faith in to plot as good a course as can be plotted. In Trump I have no faith and neither I think should anyone else. Hopefully he keeps delegating to his superior underlings.

    You study this issue more than me, what do you think of Kushner on this? Does he bring anything to the table? I know he is the president’s son in law but beyond that he seems kind of pointless.

    • #3
    • January 8, 2018, at 12:14 PM PST
    • Like
  4. Rodin Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Call me skeptical about the notion that “he” Donald Trump has a plan on any of this.

    @valiuth, I think that you could have ended the sentence after the first three words. To be Clintonian, it depends on what the meaning of the word “plan” is. I like the characterization that Victor Davis Hansen made of Trump: he has a certain animal cunning. In my mind this means that Trump has objectives and paths but no script. He is comfortable improvising, being flexible and operating with ambiguity. He is not locked in to any one approach and he does not follow “the regular order.”

    • #4
    • January 8, 2018, at 12:37 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: In the meantime, the Palestinians have not stopped their terrorist activities, particularly from Gaza. Congress created the Taylor Force Act, which was intended to stop our indirect funding of terrorism. The original bill had two major factors: that funding to the Palestinians would be stopped if they did not 1) recognize Israel’s right to exist, and 2) commit to stopping the payment to family members of terrorists. On December 7, the bill passed the House — with both of those critical factors missing — and has been sent to the Senate. It’s unclear whether those points will be restored or ignored.

    Excellent Susan, and you raise some important points which are rarely reported (UNRWA). Why do you think the House removed these critical elements from the bill?

    I could guess several reasons, all about politics. My guess is that there are some who wouldn’t support the bill as it was. The funny part is that I read another article some time ago that said there would be many ways for the Palestinians to get around the restrictions–with the State department being complicit: State would be in charge of making sure the Palestinians complied. Can’t you just see State doing that?? Also, there are some who either fear that the Palestinians will walk away from the peace process if they have to publicly accept Israel’s right to exist; or they figure the Palestinians will agree to that and then attack Israel anyway. I don’t know that my mind is devious enough to figure out all the possibilities. Any thoughts?

    • #5
    • January 8, 2018, at 12:40 PM PST
    • Like
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    OkieSailor (View Comment):
    I do think Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol is the correct one, but it will not move forward a peace process than has no real prospect for any substantial progress under current conditions in my opinion.

    I agree, Okie. But then I don’t know if Trump is rooting for a two-state solution. There have also been some interesting doings in the Knesset about governance of the West Bank. I didn’t cover it in this post because it’s so complex and unfinished, but I suspect it’s happening, at least in part, due to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem

    • #6
    • January 8, 2018, at 12:43 PM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    I think the real change if there will be any will come from the need of Arab states to band together against Iran, and Israel proves a valuable partner in such an alliance.

    I think this is certainly possible, Valiuth, if the Saudis can get the rest of the Arab countries on board.

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    As with all things Trump I think we shall see what happens. The people around him on this matter I have faith in to plot as good a course as can be plotted. In Trump I have no faith and neither I think should anyone else. Hopefully he keeps delegating to his superior underlings.

    C’mon, Valiuth, if he was smart enough to have good people developing good ideas, I think he gets credit for that.

    Re Kushner, I don’t know. I was very unhappy with his being an emissary to the Middle East due to his lack of experience with this kind of demanding situation, but apparently Greenblatt is highly regarded and I think the two of them, with Dina Hopkins, have made the visits. Otherwise, I have no idea.

    • #7
    • January 8, 2018, at 12:49 PM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Call me skeptical about the notion that “he” Donald Trump has a plan on any of this.

    @valiuth, I think that you could have ended the sentence after the first three words. To be Clintonian, it depends on what the meaning of the word “plan” is. I like the characterization that Victor Davis Hansen made of Trump: he has a certain animal cunning. In my mind this means that Trump has objectives and paths but no script. He is comfortable improvising, being flexible and operating with ambiguity. He is not locked in to any one approach and he does not follow “the regular order.”

    I agree, @rodin. First of all, it’s not our job to develop an actual plan for this situation. The word “strategy” might have been a better choice, but even then, I think your description of how he’d work with the situation is spot on. Improvising, flexible, ambiguity–yes.

    • #8
    • January 8, 2018, at 12:52 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Dave Sussman Contributor

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: In the meantime, the Palestinians have not stopped their terrorist activities, particularly from Gaza. Congress created the Taylor Force Act, which was intended to stop our indirect funding of terrorism. The original bill had two major factors: that funding to the Palestinians would be stopped if they did not 1) recognize Israel’s right to exist, and 2) commit to stopping the payment to family members of terrorists. On December 7, the bill passed the House — with both of those critical factors missing — and has been sent to the Senate. It’s unclear whether those points will be restored or ignored.

    Excellent Susan, and you raise some important points which are rarely reported (UNRWA). Why do you think the House removed these critical elements from the bill?

    I could guess several reasons, all about politics. My guess is that there are some who wouldn’t support the bill as it was. The funny part is that I read another article some time ago that said there would be many ways for the Palestinians to get around the restrictions–with the State department being complicit: State would be in charge of making sure the Palestinians complied. Can’t you just see State doing that?? Also, there are some who either fear that the Palestinians will walk away from the peace process if they have to publicly accept Israel’s right to exist; or they figure the Palestinians will agree to that and then attack Israel anyway. I don’t know that my mind is devious enough to figure out all the possibilities. Any thoughts?

    Susan, historically the State Dept. has always “certified” the PA was complying with the requirements of the Oslo Accords, but that certification was hollow … always tacitly laughed at in the corridors of DC.

    There is a significant number in Congress and State who are sympathetic to the PA and always ensured the U.S. would keep funding them. We do this while acknowledging the PA uses this money to sponsor murderers and their families who kill Jews. Between the U.N. and U.S. money flowing into Gaza, there is literally blood on the hands of those who fund them.

    State approves while hiding behind “medical” and “educational” needs for the Palestinian people. Tillerson could do the right thing and drain the State Department swamp and take a page from the strength Nikki Haley is demonstrating with the U.N. Meanwhile, the Taylor Act has been weakened to the point the PA will have at least a year before anything is enforced, giving them more than enough time to shuffle money around so they can legally abide by another feckless requirement.

    • #9
    • January 8, 2018, at 1:12 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Sash Member

    What’s been done in the past hasn’t worked.

    Bringing a fresh perspective is not a bad thing.

    I doubt Trump can cause peace in the Middle East. I don’t think it’s possible.

    I was there a while back, everyone fights with everyone else, even inside the different religions. I think there are good Palestinians who deserve better treatment, and that most Jews would favor it, but it isn’t the middle ground people that are the problem. It’s the radicals on all sides that aren’t ever going to be satisfied. It is hatred that is unfathomable here, we just don’t have that level of hate. At least I’ve never encounter it here, even the Democrats at their worst don’t compare.

    The riot I saw at the Temple Mount was caused by radical Jews… I talked to one guy in line who was an instigator, he was originally from NYC. They got in, and started shouting prayers, which is against the law. They did it on purpose to cause a riot. It worked.

    Before hand he was a nice guy who started a conversation with me, asked where we were from… were we seeing everything etc. he seemed perfectly normal… then he helped cause a riot, he wasn’t foaming at the mouth or agitated… he just did what he did.

    It was a holy day, we had a hard time finding a cab because the Palestinian cab drivers kept telling us it was a bad day to go, they tried to protect us. We were dumb, but it was our last day, we had to see the Temple Mount. Then when the riot started other Palestinians directed us to a safe place away from the action… they are not all bad people. It’s the extremes on all sides… there are more than two sides. We only hear about the worst ones.

    No side is innocent in this. There are plenty of people on both sides who could live together, but the extremes on both sides are not stopping being extreme, they don’t want to. I think some move to Jerusalem just to cause trouble.

    Either we stick to our agreement that this is the land of Israel, and in 1967 they won Jerusalem, by the commonly accepted right of conquering it, or we continue to flounder… we can’t possibly solve the issue of hatred. No one, is ever going to be completely happy in Israel.

    • #10
    • January 8, 2018, at 1:15 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  11. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    How is it possible to make peace with someone who doesn’t believe you have the right to exist? Susan, you just informed me of this typical backhanded, money laundering, anti Israel U.N. program and, once more, my jaw just drops. Why is the USA giving our money to these jackals? Valiuth typically sees no value in Trump’s actions. Well maybe the POTUS does not have the grand plan that will make everyone love one another, but he does have an understanding of the value of money. My wish is that he uses that understanding to at least put our country on the moral high ground as Israel’s real, if only, friend in the world by putting an immediate end to our financing of UNRWA. Thanks for the post, Susan. Excellent as usual.

    • #11
    • January 8, 2018, at 1:17 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  12. Rodin Member

    Sash (View Comment):
    Either we stick to our agreement that this is the land of Israel, and in 1967 they won Jerusalem, by the commonly accepted right of conquering it, or we continue to flounder… we can’t possibly solve the issue of hatred. Everyone, indeed almost no one, is ever going to be completely happy in Israel.

    Just so.

    • #12
    • January 8, 2018, at 1:20 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    C’mon, Valiuth, if he was smart enough to have good people developing good ideas, I think he gets credit for that.

    To me it seems Trump was surrounded initially by two kinds of people his guys and then more generic Republicans that were sunk in probably by McConnell, Ryan, and Pence. Now over time his original cadre have fallen off because they like Trump were glorious, self promoting idiots. Trump can’t be fired for personal incompetence and bad behavior. But his other proteges could be and as soon as the grownups took over they started being cleared out. So.. was he smart enough to pick those guys or disinterested enough not to give those jobs to his normal cadre of yahoos? Based on everything we have seen of the man I think we got very lucky in spite of Trump.

    • #13
    • January 8, 2018, at 1:21 PM PST
    • Like
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    There is a significant number in Congress and State who are sympathetic to the PA and always ensured the U.S. would keep funding them. We do this while acknowledging the PA uses this money to sponsor murderers and their families who kill Jews.

    I’ve not seen numbers on that, Dave, but I’m sure you’re right. It’s just so hard to believe. Blood is on their hands.

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    Tillerson could do the right thing and drain the State Department swamp and take a page from the strength Nikki Haley is demonstrating with the U.N.

    From what I’ve heard, lots are leaving and some are being let go; I guess Tillerson can’t work fast enough for my tastes. I saw something in the paper the other days about our experiencing a brain drain across government; obviously they weren’t referring to people on the Left! ;-)

    • #14
    • January 8, 2018, at 1:24 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Sash (View Comment):
    What’s been done in the past hasn’t worked.

    Bringing a fresh perspective is not a bad thing.

    I doubt Trump can cause peace in the Middle East. I don’t think it’s possible.

    I was there a while back, everyone fights with everyone else, even inside the different religions. I think there are good Palestinians who deserve better treatment, and that most Jews would favor it, but it isn’t the middle ground people that are the problem. It’s the radicals on all sides that aren’t ever going to be satisfied. It is hatred that is unfathomable here, we just don’t have that level of hate. At least I’ve never encounter it here, even the Democrats at their worst don’t compare.

    The riot I saw at the Temple Mount was caused by radical Jews… I talked to one guy in line who was an instigator, he was originally from NYC. They got in, and started shouting prayers, which is against the law. They did it on purpose to cause a riot. It worked.

    No side is innocent in this. There are plenty of people on both sides who could live together, but the extremes on both sides are not stopping being extreme, they don’t want to. I think some move to Jerusalem just to cause trouble.

    Either we stick to our agreement that this is the land of Israel, and in 1967 they won Jerusalem, by the commonly accepted right of conquering it, or we continue to flounder… we can’t possibly solve the issue of hatred. Everyone, indeed almost no one, is ever going to be completely happy in Israel.

    @Sash, the only exception I would take is that comparing extremists on both sides is not fair. The number of incidents and lives lost over instigated violence are not the same. But I do agree that we can’t get rid of hatred, and if there ever is peace, no one will be happy with the results, at least for a while. I also don’t make a secret of my bias. ;-)

    • #15
    • January 8, 2018, at 1:29 PM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn: And finally, I think he is making a statement to the world that dealing with the reality of an intransigent Palestinian leadership, and the right of Israel to exist and claim its homeland should be on everyone’s radar screen.

    Bears repeating. It’s about time somebody dealt with the truth of the irreconcilable differences. There’s nothing to negotiate.

    • #16
    • January 8, 2018, at 1:55 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Call me skeptical about the notion that “he” Donald Trump has a plan on any of this.

    @valiuth, I think that you could have ended the sentence after the first three words. To be Clintonian, it depends on what the meaning of the word “plan” is. I like the characterization that Victor Davis Hansen made of Trump: he has a certain animal cunning. In my mind this means that Trump has objectives and paths but no script. He is comfortable improvising, being flexible and operating with ambiguity. He is not locked in to any one approach and he does not follow “the regular order.”

    I agree, @rodin. First of all, it’s not our job to develop an actual plan for this situation. The word “strategy” might have been a better choice, but even then, I think your description of how he’d work with the situation is spot on. Improvising, flexible, ambiguity–yes.

    Strategy is fine, but does Trump have a strategy? No, Obama didn’t either I would like to point out. Because at every possible point he was caught flat footed and then he relied on his instincts which all were rather bad. I guess @rodin thinks Trump has better instincts, but I don’t see that. Improvising, flexibility, ambiguity these are mostly buzz words to mask lack of a goal and strategy. Does Trump have a vision of where he wants to see the Middle East and Israel in 8 years? I think having flexibility and improvisational skill is important if you have a goal to achieve, same with ambiguity if you need to mask your goal. But you need a goal first. On their own these things are meaningless wheel spinning unless they are employed to an end.

    • #17
    • January 8, 2018, at 2:06 PM PST
    • Like
  18. Sash Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    @Sash, the only exception I would take is that comparing extremists on both sides is not fair. The number of incidents and lives lost over instigated violence are not the same. But I do agree that we can’t get rid of hatred, and if there ever is peace, no one will be happy with the results, at least for a while. I also don’t make a secret of my bias. ;-)

    It is not really that simple. I wanted to be on the Jews side when I went, so I spent a few days in kind of a bad mood, because it is not one sided at all.

    Such as, in Bethlehem our Jewish friend arranged a tour with a Palestinian Christian… and he showed us around the city and we went to the Church and so forth… but in the places we went in the city we noticed water tanks everywhere, my husband asked him what they were for, and he said Israel cuts off the cities water when they get mad and if they don’t store water they don’t have water to drink for long periods of time.

    That may not be a bomb, but it’s pretty awful. Friends living in the Palestinian part of Jerusalem said often the garbage pick up (which is a Jewish responsibility apparently) is not done up for weeks and the piles of garbage are sometimes really awful to live with. But in Jewish parts of the city it is pretty much 1st world utilities.

    I think Palestinians in Israel are on average better off financially than average people in other parts of the middle East, I think many of them really would like to remain part of Israel, just because it is a better life, but they feel like they are not respected and held responsible for things the mostly radical people do.

    • #18
    • January 8, 2018, at 2:58 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    President Trump, particularly through his estimable appointee Nikki Haley, has provided an important counterweight to the United Nations – a malevolent institution whose initials have become synonymous with bias against Israel. Not just UNRWA, but also UNESCO and the parodic UNHRC, with its rogues gallery of serial human rights abusers. The same UN which President Obama used to betray Israel and indirectly( ?) fund its sworn enemies and which shrugs its shoulders at outrages around the globe far worse than Israel has ever been accused of. So while President Trump might or might not have a plan I’m more than happy that he has tilted the pendulum somewhat back towards Israel;and reminded the Palestinians that not all of the big players are in their pockets.

    • #19
    • January 8, 2018, at 3:01 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  20. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Susan Quinn:I also believe [President Trump] recognizes that the chance of the Palestinians coming to the table and making any concessions is highly unlikely. […] It sounds like Trump has figured out the potential of a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians is not good. … [He] has seen the rejection of Israel’s policies and the pandering to Palestinians from countries all over the world; and the Palestinians recently rejected the support of the US in the peace process.

    I don’t mean this as criticism — quite the contrary, actually — but this seems very much in line with GWB’s policy, with the added bonus of recognizing Jerusalem. As I recall, the Bush 43 administration got a lot of flak for walking away from the peace negotiations having decided (rightly) that only one side was interested in peace.

    Again, I consider this a good thing.

    • #20
    • January 8, 2018, at 3:22 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Sash (View Comment):
    but in the places we went in the city we noticed water tanks everywhere, my husband asked him what they were for, and he said Israel cuts off the cities water when they get mad and if they don’t store water they don’t have water to drink for long periods of time.

    I appreciate your sharing your experience, Sash. I’d suggest that water was cut off for more than Israel’s “getting mad.” From what I’ve learned, there are long periods when the Palestinian Authority doesn’t pay its bills. I have a hard time believing that their well-being is threatened by not having water to drink. (It’s unclear how often and for how long that occurs.) But I haven’t been there to ask. One could say that they shouldn’t cut off utilities for unpaid bills, but I think there are probably circumstances where it’s justified. I also suspect that there have been periods of violence where Israel reciprocated with cutting off utilities; we could debate whether that is appropriate or not.

    Sash (View Comment):
    I think Palestinians in Israel are on average better off financially than average people in other parts of the middle East, I think many of them really would like to remain part of Israel, just because it is a better life, but they feel like they are not respected and held responsible for things the mostly radical people do.

    I think you’re correct. Palestinians genuinely appreciate Israeli governance in Israel, but they can’t admit it; there would be repercussions. But then the point is that the primary people committing the violence are Muslims; I would think if I lived in that environment, I would be cautious toward all Muslims too. Who can one trust. I think on the whole you and I see the situation very much the same. My heart especially goes out to the Christians in that part of the world.

    • #21
    • January 8, 2018, at 3:45 PM PST
    • 1 like
  22. Stad Thatcher

    I wish Trump’s plan were this:

    Any nation that doesn’t recognize 1) Israel’s right to exist, and 2) Israel’s right to defend itself against all oppressors, should be banished from the UN (ain’t gonna happen), but they should not receive one dime of US support any more.

    I hate the UN with a passion. Why any civilized nation should be a member of an organization that has dictatorships as members, female-oppressive societies (Islam) as members, and countries that support and practice slavery and torture (again, Islam), is beyond me.

    I’d just as soon see the UN building torn down, and perhaps low-income housing put in its place. Hey De Blasio, you listening? Didn’t think so . . .

    • #22
    • January 8, 2018, at 3:47 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):
    I don’t mean this as criticism — quite the contrary, actually — but this seems very much in line with GWB’s policy, with the added bonus of recognizing Jerusalem. As I recall, the Bush 43 administration got a lot of flak for walking away from the peace negotiations having decided (rightly) that only one side was interested in peace.

    Again, I consider this a good thing.

    I see your point, Tom. But there are a lot of benefits to Palestinians that remained in place. We’ll have to see if there are any other shifts as @charlesmark describes where other countries begin to realize that the Palestinians have not earned their respect or protection.

    • #23
    • January 8, 2018, at 3:48 PM PST
    • Like
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Stad (View Comment):
    I’d just as soon see the UN building torn down, and perhaps low-income housing put in its place. Hey De Blasio, you listening? Didn’t think so . . .

    I’d love for the UN to leave, Stad . . . ! but I’m not sure we can afford to leave the UN. At this point, with the stands we’re taking, we may have more to gain in influence if we stay, than if we go.

    • #24
    • January 8, 2018, at 3:50 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sash (View Comment):
    What’s been done in the past hasn’t worked.

    Bringing a fresh perspective is not a bad thing.

    I doubt Trump can cause peace in the Middle East. I don’t think it’s possible.

    I was there a while back, everyone fights with everyone else, even inside the different religions. I think there are good Palestinians who deserve better treatment, and that most Jews would favor it, but it isn’t the middle ground people that are the problem. It’s the radicals on all sides that aren’t ever going to be satisfied. It is hatred that is unfathomable here, we just don’t have that level of hate. At least I’ve never encounter it here, even the Democrats at their worst don’t compare.

    The riot I saw at the Temple Mount was caused by radical Jews… I talked to one guy in line who was an instigator, he was originally from NYC. They got in, and started shouting prayers, which is against the law. They did it on purpose to cause a riot. It worked.

    Before hand he was a nice guy who started a conversation with me, asked where we were from… were we seeing everything etc. he seemed perfectly normal… then he helped cause a riot, he wasn’t foaming at the mouth or agitated… he just did what he did.

    It was a holy day, we had a hard time finding a cab because the Palestinian cab drivers kept telling us it was a bad day to go, they tried to protect us. We were dumb, but it was our last day, we had to see the Temple Mount. Then when the riot started other Palestinians directed us to a safe place away from the action… they are not all bad people. It’s the extremes on all sides… there are more than two sides. We only hear about the worst ones.

    No side is innocent in this. There are plenty of people on both sides who could live together, but the extremes on both sides are not stopping being extreme, they don’t want to. I think some move to Jerusalem just to cause trouble.

    Either we stick to our agreement that this is the land of Israel, and in 1967 they won Jerusalem, by the commonly accepted right of conquering it, or we continue to flounder… we can’t possibly solve the issue of hatred. No one, is ever going to be completely happy in Israel.

    It’s very helpful and important to hear stories like this from people of good faith with no axe to grind. I have never doubted that there are bad actors on the Israeli/ Jewish side and thoroughly decent people on the Palestinian side but so much of the reportage from the region is contaminated by bias that it’s easy to shut it all out and develop a siege mentality. I say this from the perspective of someone living in a country (Ireland) where no-one could lose more than a handful of votes or readers by trashing Israel. I also have no doubt what side I am on and why.

    • #25
    • January 8, 2018, at 4:14 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Charles Mark (View Comment):
    It’s very helpful and important to hear stories like this from people of good faith with no axe to grind. I have never doubted that there are bad actors on the Israeli/ Jewish side and thoroughly decent people on the Palestinian side but so much of the reportage from the region is contaminated by bias that it’s easy to shut it all out and develop a siege mentality. I say this from the perspective of someone living in a country (Ireland) where no-one could lose more than a handful of votes or readers by trashing Israel. I also have no doubt what side I am on and why.

    I agree, Charles. My bias also comes from centuries of the Jews fighting to survive, and here we are doing it again. I only began to read the history recently, from the beginning, and it’s pretty awful. I’ve no doubt there are good Palestinians and bad Jews. There are Palestinians who would love to send their children to good schools with reliable transportation and safety. And there are Jews as @Sash described that are rotten human beings.

    • #26
    • January 8, 2018, at 4:20 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  27. Mim526 Member

    The word I would apply to Donald Trump’s policy approach, including foreign policy, is realism. From my observation, his view of policy is probably that it’s one means to an end, not an end in and of itself. His end — first, last, and always — is to do whatever’s necessary for things to function well.

    Our Secretaries of State over the past decades have presided over the agency that epitomizes more than any other a bloated, dysfunctional behemoth which serves as a stop to repay political favors, wrack up travel miles, and route payments for good behavior. When was the last real diplomacy win, one that didn’t weigh more against than for the US, or at least had equal consideration for all sides? My guess is George Shultz under Reagan.

    • #27
    • January 8, 2018, at 10:46 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Mim526 (View Comment):
    The word I would apply to Donald Trump’s policy approach, including foreign policy, is realism. From my observation, his view of policy is probably that it’s one means to an end, not an end in and of itself. His end — first, last, and always — is to do whatever’s necessary for things to function well.

    Our Secretaries of State over the past decades have presided over the agency that epitomizes more than any other a bloated, dysfunctional behemoth which serves as a stop to repay political favors, wrack up travel miles, and route payments for good behavior. When was the last real diplomacy win, one that didn’t weigh more against than for the US, or at least had equal consideration for all sides? My guess is George Shultz under Reagan.

    Very good points, Mim. I wonder if State has always been hugely Left, or if that’s a fairly recent phenomenon. I’d also guess that happened after Reagan.

    • #28
    • January 9, 2018, at 6:03 AM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Rodin Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I wonder if State has always been hugely Left, or if that’s a fairly recent phenomenon.

    Recall the expression “When you are a hammer, everything is a nail.” All organizations tend to view problems through their own particular expertise: diplomats think talking works, warriors think that fighting works, surgeons think that cutting works, accountants think that counting works….etc. They are all correct within certain parameters. The politics of the “rank and file” within any organization tend toward those policies and approaches that place the most value on the work that they do. The State Department wants to believe in a world where talking dominates and its personnel are most fawned on and respected — liked, not feared. That world, which does not exist in Nature, tends to be progressive.

    • #29
    • January 9, 2018, at 8:11 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Rodin (View Comment):
    The politics of the “rank and file” within any organization tend toward those policies and approaches that place the most value on the work that they do. The State Department wants to believe in a world where talking dominates and its personnel are most fawned on and respected — liked, not feared. That world, which does not exist in Nature, tends to be progressive.

    Excellent point, Rodin. So obviously State attracts people who value that approach, too. And, of course, bureaucracy solidifies those beliefs forever. Darn.

    • #30
    • January 9, 2018, at 8:16 AM PST
    • 2 likes

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