This week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas heads to Washington as President Donald Trump makes his first major foray into Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Thus far, the administration’s approach has exceeded expectations. Fears that Trump would quickly move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and declare open season for Israeli settlement construction have not materialized. Instead, he has declared his intention to make Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority. He has taken early steps to build a good relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while still encouraging the Israelis to restrain settlement activity. He has dispatched a special envoy — Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special representative for international negotiations — who has conducted a wide-ranging listening tour to get smart on the issues. And the White House invitation to Abbas is a sign that Trump appears willing to engage on this issue in a way that does not shatter previous norms. However, now the hard work begins.
Given his natural inclination to make a splash, Trump may look for a big breakthrough on a final peace agreement and use their meeting to ask Abbas to resume negotiations. This would be unwise and is unlikely to work. For Abbas, going back to negotiations with the Israelis comes with a major cost. After nearly 25 years of failure, the Palestinian public considers negotiations as purely an excuse by the Israelis to buy time while they continue to build settlements and perpetuate the occupation. This is especially true right now, as Abbas faces internal political pressure from a major Palestinian prisoner hunger strike led by one of the men looking to succeed him — Marwan Barghouti. To go back into negotiations, Abbas will need a high-profile concession from Netanyahu that he can sell. But given the power of the far-right wing of the Israeli governing coalition, Netanyahu will not be able to take such a step.
Read the full article at Foreign Policy.
More from CNAS
CommentarySharper: Global Coronavirus Response
As regions across the United States enforce states of emergency and a growing list of countries restrict travel, close schools, and quarantine citizens, the economic and human...
By Chris Estep & Cole Stevens
Commentary9/11 swallowed U.S. foreign policy. Don’t let the coronavirus do the same thing.
For two decades, American foreign policy has been shaped by the 9/11 attacks. The catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our failure to see the full threat posed by Russia...
By Ilan Goldenberg
CommentaryBig Ideas for NATO’s New Mission in Iraq
Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for America’s allies to “get more involved in the Middle East,” NATO defense ministers last month agreed to “enhance” the Atlanti...
By David H. Petraeus & Vance Serchuk
CommentaryThe American Public Wants a Sustainable Middle East Policy
After the U.S. strike on Qasem Soleimani, Americans feared the United States was on the brink of war with Iran. “World War III draft” memes circulated around the internet, and...
By Kaleigh Thomas & Emma Moore