Donald Trump will renege on his campaign promise to quickly move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but he may have some consolation prizes for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take home this week.
The two leaders plan to seal their bromance – you’ll get your turn later Vlad – with an Oval Office meeting on Wednesday. Look for POTUS to tell Bibi to throttle back on his settlement announcements and building spree because it’s not helpful to peace, and the PM will declare a yuuuuuge victory because Trump didn’t use the word “obstacle.”
In return, Bibi will renew his empty endorsement of the two-state solution, to which Trump will tout his supreme mastery of deal making and how he’s subcontracting the task to his favorite son-in-law. Both will talk about how they can bypass the Palestinians by cutting a historic deal between Israel and the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs without the Palestinians, who will feel so abandoned they’ll accept Israel’s terms for peace.
All of that will come to naught, but it will make headlines for a few days, rankling both the left and right here and in Israel.
Bibi won’t go home emptyhanded. Trump can be very generous when someone else is footing the bill. He can give the PM two things he dearly wants. The first is re-gifting and updating a letter from George W. Bush to then-PM Ariel Sharon in 2004 saying Washington would recognize existing settlement blocs as part of Israel in any future peace deal.
The second could be convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. He’s been on parole since November and can’t leave the country for five years. Trump can change that with the stroke of a pen— and how he loves to stroke his pen — and let him go to Israel. It will be a great victory and triumphal return for Netanyahu, who is facing indictment on a number of corruption charges and needs some good news and a diversion.
Trump may run into some moaning and groaning from the U.S. intelligence community, who are still pissed that one of their own (Naval intelligence) betrayed them; some also claim he refuses to reveal his inside source that led him to documents he couldn’t have otherwise found.
Bibi will need Pollard to help appease his critics on the far right who will be unhappy that he didn’t renounce Palestinians statehood and get Trump to do the same.
A presidential letter and a famous former prisoner would help soothe those hard feelings and overshadow the AG’s investigations. Bibi could celebrate his success by lighting up one of his favorite Cuban cigars and toasting with some pink Dom Perignon champagne.