Trump Promises Progress in Peace Process

Jordan Reinforces Civil Guards at Al-Aqsa Mosque

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7 sep 2018 (Gehele dag)
Trump Promises Progress in Peace Process
US President Donald Trump spoke with American Jewish leaders by conference call on Thursday, saying that he plans to withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority unless they agree to enter into negotiations with Israel. He added his hopes that this approach, which he said had never been tried before, would lead to a breakthrough in the decades old stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We’re going to be able to get it done,” Trump said. “We did something that I now understand why so many presidents before me didn’t do. They would campaign and they were always going to talk. They were always talking about Jerusalem and the embassy, and it was all very beautiful and everybody was happy. And then they never did it. I’d say, you’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying. And that’s going to have a little impact.”

“I said, “’By the way, did you ever do that before?’” he added. “I said to some of the past negotiators, ‘Did you ever do that before? Did you ever use the money angle?’ They said, ‘No, sir. We thought it would be disrespectful.’ I said, ‘I don’t think it’s disrespectful at all. I think it’s disrespectful when people don’t come to the table.’”

Meanwhile, in a Rosh Hashanah interview with the Jerusalem Post, US Ambassador David Friedman attempted to dispel rumors that the White House was looking to extract something from Israel in return for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. “There’s nothing we have in our back pocket that says, ‘Well, Israel, you’ve got to give up X, Y and Z because the embassy was moved,’” he declared. “The embassy was moved to Jerusalem because the American people have, through their elected officials for the last 25 years, directed the president to do exactly that, and Donald Trump was the first president to do so. That’s the beginning and the end of the Jerusalem decision.”

“It has sent exactly the right signal to our friends and to our foes: that the United States can be trusted at its word; that the United States does not act out of fear, but out of strength,” he added.

In response to a question about the PA rejecting the so-called “deal of the century” before it’s even been publicly revealed, Friedman added, “The idea of rejecting a plan that you haven’t seen strikes me as being grossly irresponsible. You want to read it and tell us what you don’t like about it, by all means. You want to read it and say, ‘It’s not acceptable.’ Sure, that’s your right. But to not know what’s in there, and to reject it out of hand, and to cause others within the leadership to refrain from having conversations because you don’t like something you haven’t read, just strikes me as being grossly irresponsible when you’re trying to lead a couple of million people to a better future.”

Elsewhere, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US, hosted a Rosh Hashanah toast on Wednesday evening in Washington, saying among other things that “What is new is the behavior of many Arab states. They are no longer reflexively dancing to the Palestinians’ tune. Despite the best efforts of Palestinian leaders to whip up opposition to President Trump’s Jerusalem decision, the response in the Arab world was mostly silence. And that silence should give us real hope for the future – the hope that after 70 years of demonizing Israel, some Arab states may finally be ready to turn the page.”

In related news, the Jordanian government recently sent reinforcements to the civil defense guards at Al-Aqsa Mosque on top of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City and has also taken other steps which it says is meant to bolster the morale of Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem. The government also sponsored a visit by Christian officers in the Jordanian armed forces to Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem.