2017-05-10 / Editorial

Trump to try hand at brokering Middle East peace

The first international trip of Donald Trump’s presidency is an ambitious one. Of significance, he will start in Saudi Arabia before visiting Israel and then moving on to locales in Europe.

Although Jerusalem is just one of many stops along the way, Trump has stressed that brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a major priority. Israeli leaders have responded with optimism to the plan, which was announced the day after Trump hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.

According to Middle East experts, making Riyadh the first destination is an attempt to construct an anti-Iranian coalition, to build partnerships in the Muslim world against terrorism, and to foster the regional conditions that could enable a restart of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren said the decision to meet first with world Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia was “excellent” news.

“It dovetails with Israel’s interests,” Oren told The Times of Israel. “It’s in our interest to have an American president who’s respected throughout the Arab world and is committed to harnessing the Arab world to make peace between us and the Palestinians.”

Although White House officials have shared little about the specifics, there are reports that Trump hopes to convene a summit meeting of Israeli and Arab leaders, possibly in the summer. His son-in-law Jared Kushner has been assigned to oversee the effort and one of his lawyers, Jason D. Greenblatt, was appointed to carry out the negotiations.

Officials did not comment on the status of Trump’s campaign pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

During the Abbas visit, Trump expressed hope. “Let’s see if we can find the solution,” he said. “It’s something that, I think, is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

History tells us efforts to broker a lasting peace in the Middle East will not be easy, but we should hope and pray it can be accomplished. 

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