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Is Trump Palestine’s New Hope?

On his recent visit to Washington, DC, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas surprised many by heaping praise on US President Donald Trump, expressing his hope that Trump will help resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. But is that hope warranted?

RAMALLAH – On his recent visit to Washington, DC, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas surprised many by heaping praise on US President Donald Trump. Speaking through a translator, Abbas called Trump, who had promised to “get done” a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, “courageous” and wise, and lauded Trump’s “great negotiating ability.” “Now, Mr. President,” Abbas concluded in English, “with you we have hope.”

The question, of course, is whether that hope is warranted. After all, in his own public statement, Trump made no reference to the two-state solution, and his vague declarations about peace (mentioned 11 times) included not so much as a hint about the need for Israel (also mentioned 11 times) to end its illegal settlement construction. And, in fact, Trump fell back in his statements on that asymmetrical phrasing he has so often used in the past: Israel and the Palestinians.

The reality is that Trump has long been giving Palestinians reason to worry. During his election campaign, Trump spoke about moving the United States embassy to Jerusalem and condemned the outgoing Obama administration’s decision to abstain from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution denouncing Israeli settlements (rather than vetoing it). Once elected, Trump appointed as US ambassador to Israel his bankruptcy lawyer, David Friedman, who has a long history of supporting right-wing Israeli causes (even donating to a West Bank settlement).

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