Trump Hasn’t Learned from Obama’s Mistakes on Middle East Peace

    Evan Gottesman

    Security, Middle East

    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the funeral service of former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

    Trump wants a big political win with Israel and Palestine, but it didn’t work when Obama tried to hammer out a grand bargain.

    Not one for modesty, President Donald Trump has boldly claimed that he could reach “the ultimate deal,” by achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. Now, his administration is poised to unveil that program. Any definitive judgment of Trump’s plan should be withheld until it is officially spelled out. However, given the outsize influence of pro-settlement officials like Ambassador David Friedman and adviser Jared Kushner, along with Trump’s own reluctance to explicitly endorse two states, it is very likely to lean decisively toward the Israeli side. But even on the off chance that Trump’s team pulls together a more balanced proposal, rushing headlong into final status negotiations would be potentially catastrophic. President Obama’s administration made a similar error in jumped into final status talks not once, but twice during his eight-year tenure. Trump’s “ultimate deal” claim is not too unlike then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2010 suggestion that America could finish mediating final status Israeli-Palestinian issues within twelve months. Both reflect a desire to score a political win without completing the requisite homework.

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