JERUSALEM, Israel – Following visits in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, Trump administration envoys met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday, afterward traveling to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Senior advisor Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy Dina Powell, who arrived in Israel Wednesday evening, were joined by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
"We have a lot of things to talk about: how to advance peace, stability and security in our region – prosperity too. And I think all of them are within our reach," Netanyahu said. "I think this is a sign of the great alliance between us and the great goals that guide us."
Kushner said the president "is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in the area, and we really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister in engaging very thoughtfully and respectfully in the way the president has asked," adding that "the relationship between Israel and America is stronger than ever."
Yet with all the positive talk, the Palestinian Authority continues to blame Israel and the Trump administration for the lack of progress. It's a pattern that's continued for years.
Abbas refuses outright to stop monthly payments to convicted terrorists and their families, praising their "sacrifice" and calling them "shahids" (martyrs) for the resistance. The P.A. is also insisting on a construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and seeking a U.S. endorsement for an independent Palestinian state.
Israeli author and political analyst Isi Leibler says the 82-year-old P.A. leader is nearing the end of his career. In an op-ed entitled "The never-ending peace process farce," Liebler says Abbas real goal is the destruction of the Jewish state.
"Abbas is coming to the end of his reign. A brutal and corrupt dictator, he is determined that his legacy be that of an embattled 'freedom fighter' committed to reversal of the Nakba, his ultimate objective being the restoration of Arab hegemony from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. His means to achieve this necessitate the dismemberment of the Jewish state in stages through terrorism and international pressure," Leibler stated.
The Nakba, which means "catastrophe," refers to the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Designated a national holiday by the P.A., it is usually accompanied by violent protests and rioting.
On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters the two sides must come up with a "workable solution."
"We want to work toward a peace that both sides can agree to and that both sides find sustainable," she said. "We believe that both parties should be able to find a workable solution that works for both of them.
"We are not going to state what the outcome has to be. It has to be workable to both sides. And I think, really, that's the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it. It's been many, many decades, as you well know, that the parties have not been able to come to any kind of good agreement and sustainable solution to this. So we leave it up to them to be able to work that through."