Palestinians Have ‘Low Expectations’ in Trump-Abbas Meeting, Officials Say

YERUSHALAYIM -
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U.S. President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in February. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Both U.S. President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas have “low” expectations for their meeting on Wednesday, the Washington Post said on Tuesday. According to the paper, preparatory meetings between PA and American delegations preparing for the meeting did not find many points of agreement. According to Post writer Josh Rogin, the PA team said that “the Trump team doesn’t seem to know exactly what Trump wants to discuss or propose. White House staff declined to say anything at all about their goals for the meeting.”

A European official stationed in Yerushalayim was quoted by AFP as saying that Abbas hopes that President Trump’s lack of experience in foreign affairs will work in their favor. “Palestinians are hoping that Trump’s unpredictability might play in their favor,” one Jerusalem-based European official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “They are going to be very disappointed. They can’t be sure of anything.”

President Trump has expressed interest in bringing Israel and the PA back to the negotiating table. In March, an American delegation led by U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt met with Israeli and PA officials, with Israeli officials telling Channel Two that they were “very surprised” at how determined Mr. Trump was on the matter, given what appeared to be his very strong support for Israeli policies even after the election.

On the other hand, Trump told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at their February meeting that as far as he was concerned, the final resolution of the Middle East conflict was up to both sides. “So, I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while that the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Netanyahu and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians — are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

Netanyahu, for his part, said that he was also ready for any solution, but that Israel’s security could not be compromised. “First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state; they must stop calling for Israel’s destruction,” he told reporters after the meeting. “Second, Israel must retain security control over all of the area west of the Jordan River.” Absent that, the result would be, as happened in Gaza, “another failed state, another Islamist dictatorship that will not work for peace, but work to destroy us,” Netanyahu added.