Wednesday, February 15, 2017

With the Trump approach to foreign policy, you may get bits and pieces of principled positions, but you have to sift through his unique brand of gobbledygook to find them

Such is the case with his joint presser with Prime Minister Netanyahu a short  while ago. He indicated a marked departure from the aims being sought over the past two administrations, but he couched it in kind of a "I-might-be-for-this-I-might-be-for-that-whatever-you-people-want" statement. The guy, if taken literally is simultaneously entertaining two mutually exclusive possibilities:

President Trump said Wednesday that he could support either a one-state or two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a walk back from decades of American policy in the region.
"I’m looking at two-state, one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. … I can live with either one," Trump said during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"I thought for a while the two-state [solution] looked to be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Bibi and the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best."
Past administrations pushed for two states in the Middle East, one for each people, as a way to end the decades of turmoil in the region.  
Israel has been searching for the one the "both parties like" - the other party being the one that wants to drive the land's Jews into the sea - for seventy years.

He continued in this vein, acknowledging that Palestinian media is besotted with Israel-hatred, but then asking Netanyahu to "hold back a little bit" on settlements.

As I say, you have to do some parsing to see the contours of something consistent, and in this case, those contours are on balance encouraging.


  1. Tell me again why these settlements are so important to the Israelis? And you need to know that I do recognize everyone's right to exist. That is a right is it not?

  2. Trump BS:"My administration has a lready imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing — I mean ever — a nuclear weapon. Our security assistance to Israel is currently at an all-time high, ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend itself from threats, of which there are unfortunately many."

    REALITY: In the final months of his administration, President Barack Obama approved a 10-year, $38 billion package for military aid to Israel — the largest deal between the two countries in history.

    Netanyahu BS: "Our alliance has been remarkably strong, but under your leadership, I'm confident it will get even stronger. I look forward to working with you to dramatically upgrade our alliance in every field, in security and technology and cyber and trade and so many others, and I certainly welcome your forthright call to ensure that Israel is treated fairly in international forums and that the slander and boycotts of Israel are resisted mightily by the power and moral position of the United States of America."

    REAITY: It’s hard not to see this as at least a mild slap at former President Obama. The U.S. and Israel have always been close allies. The two countries signed a 10-year deal in September with the U.S. providing $38 billion over that period of time. That was an increase of 27 percent over a 2007 deal. But Obama and Netanyahu had an, at times, thorny relationship. There was the hot mic moment when France’s then-President Nicolas Sarkozy told Obama he’d had enough of Netanyahu and called him a “liar.” Obama said to him, “You’ve had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day!” The Obama administration, like past administrations, Democratic and Republican, alike, had frustrations with Israel. In particular, there was the issue of settlement expansion. It got so bad that on his way out, former Secretary of State John Kerry, said, “Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy. We cannot, in good conscience, do nothing and say nothing when we see the hope of peace slipping away.”

    So, it’s notable that Netanyahu, if you listen to the tape, stressed “under your leadership” and called for a dramatic “upgrade.”


  3. Actually I liked the attitude Trump brought to the press conference and his optimism. And it was indeed good to see Nettie smile. Trump can be charming indeed. But his mean streak and pathological defensiveness are killers.

  4. The reaffirmed alliance between the US and Israel is one of the most important positives so far in this new era.

  5. The reaffirmed alliance between the US and Israel is one of the most important positives so far in this new era.