2017-03-15 / Editorial

Trump moves to reignite Middle East peace talks

It is a good sign that President Donald Trump’s recent moves to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process are premised on the idea that Israeli and Palestinian leadership negotiate directly with each other.

A month after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, Trump has sent Jason Greenblatt, a key foreign policy adviser, to talk with both sides in an effort to formulate a more coherent vision of how the U.S. should proceed to jumpstart the long elusive Middle East peace process. Greenblatt’s visit followed a 20- minute telephone conversation between the US president and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week, during which Abbas was invited to Washington to meet Trump.

Both during the campaign and in his early months as president, Trump has given mixed signs about the direction he will take. With Netanyahu by his side last month, Trump broke with decades of US policy by saying he was not bound to the two-state solution for ending the conflict. As a candidate, he spoke of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and strongly stated support of Israel’s right to build up settlements.

In recent days, however, there has been less talk of moving the US embassy and the White House has back-peddled support of increased settlement construction. Moreover, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, has stated that the US remained committed to a two-state solution.

Trump has emphatically stated his commitment to his campaign promise to broker a deal. According to a recent White House statement, he emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that “the time has come to make a deal.” 

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