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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

They Really Just Don't Get It -- Trump Reshapes the Mideast Peace Process

President Trump met today with Israeli prime minister Netanyahu.  In about five minutes, Trump managed to reshape the entire Arab-Israeli peace process in a way that will hopefully pay major dividends.  The strange thing is to watch the mainstream media misunderstand what happened.

Let's start with what Trump did.  At the joint press conference with Netanyahu, President Trump said that between a two state solution and a one state solution, the USA liked the solution that was agreeable to the parties.  That changed a policy in place since Bill Clinton was president that the USA endorsed a two state solution.  Think what that means.  America will now be guided by what Israel and the Palestinians want and agree to.  America will no longer tell the parties what their agreement should be.  For the Israelis, it will be understood that the USA is no longer going to attempt to dictate what Israel should or should not accept.  For the Palestinians, it will be understood that they can no longer do nothing and expect the USA to negotiate with the Israelis on their behalf.  Any agreement will have to be acceptable to both side.

This may not sound like much; it does seem obvious that any final deal ought to be agreeable to both sides.  In reality, however, it is a major change.  It puts control of the negotiations back into the hands of the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Almost immediately after Trump made his statement, the mainstream media was out with commentary denouncing what he did.  There must be a two state solution, or so they told their viewers.  They trotted out a series of Democrat politicians who lamented the change as an abandonment of the peace process.  In short, both the media and the Democrats missed the whole point of what Trump did.  We already knew that the peace process tried by president Obama and his people failed miserably.  Indeed, it failed again and again for eight years.  It is irrational for the media and the Democrats to now be upset that Trump won't try the same failed policies once more.

There was a second important moment at today's press conference.  President Trump turned to Netanyahu and asked if Israel could stop creating new settlements for the time being.  This too was misunderstood by the media.  They portrayed it as Trump adopting the old Obama anti-settlement position.  (It wasn't that at all.)  I wouldn't be surprised if Netanyahu asked Trump to make the statement or, at least, indicated that it would be welcome.  In Israel right now, there are parties who are part of the government who want a major expansion of settlements.  That group does not include Netanyahu, however.  Trump's statement will give Netanyahu the leverage he needs to perhaps get his government to agree that no big settlement expansion makes sense right now.


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