2017-05-24 / Editorial

Trump’s Mideast visit could be a watershed event for the future

Wearing a black kippah and accompanied by his Jewish son-in-law/senior advisor Jared Kushner, Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem earlier this week.

Trump’s arrival to Israel was stacked with symbolism. After meeting with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia during the first prong of his first overseas trip, he flew from Riyadh to David Ben Gurion airport in the first direct flight ever taken between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have no diplomatic relations.

“I have come to this sacred and ancient land to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and the State of Israel,” Trump declared at the welcome ceremony, where he was greeted by Israel’s leaders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

Although the White House has stressed that the visit was unofficial and private and the U.S. considers the status of Jerusalem unresolved and subject to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the visit carries weight. It comes after Trump urged leaders in the Middle East to seize a “rare” opportunity to overcome past rifts to join together for peace and stability and to unite against a common threat: Terrorism.

How successful President Trump is in bringing peace to the region depends on many factors, including the desire for peace on the part of the leaders and residents of the region; a common front against extremism, and the ability to curb Iran’s support of terrorism.

With cooperation, success is possible, and President Trump’s trip might be viewed as a watershed event in Middle East history. Time will tell, but this week’s events at least provide hope, if not progress, after a period when the peace process had little of either. 

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