Mr.Trump goes to Jerusalem and Mr. Netanyahu’s predicament

The fantasy world delusions of too many in the Israeli Right Wing about Donald Trump and Israel are coming to an end in a fast and furious manner. So, the Iran sanctions are lifted, no revision of the Iran nuclear deal, the one which Trump himself daubed as the ”worst” in history[he doesn’t remember this statement…], and what is far worse for them, is the attitude to the Palestinian issue. Here , the volte face is complete. The ”greatest ever friend of Israel in the WH”[not G.W. Bush and R.Reagan]],simply accepts the classic and totally unrealistic Arab argument, that this issue is THE key to a stabler Middle East, so no Embassy move, no settlements, no recognition of the Kotel as part of Israel, in short, God Forbid we antagonize the Palestinians.Antagonizing Israel goes, as they will understand, and look at their wall, to see how walls work, as we all heard in the press conference with President Santos of Colombia, and this was the only ‘pro Israel” statement he made in the last month or so.

Context is in place here. Politicians may be considered by many to be the most cynical, mistrusted and disbelieved lot of people, but as a generality it is , of course, a mistake. Some of them, maybe most, do have a core set of values and beliefs which guide them and may be behind a lot of their decisions . Obama was one such politician-with the ideological guidance of Rashid Khalidi, Bill Ayers and Reverend White. As for Trump, I simply do not know, but I happen to recall his statement from early on in the campaign, to the effect that he was” neutral ”between Israel and the Palestinians, and I believed it then and believe it now, as it seems perfectly in line with the ”art of the deal” approach. A concept bereft of ideology, other than what bring about a success. Success for Trump is anything which can be attributed to his political and diplomatic acumen, and anything means exactly that. It is not pro or anti Israel and the Palestinians, it is what can be defined on American TV as being ”great”, the word which Trump cannot do without.
That said, there still is ”something” which altogether works against Israel. This is , in fact, a big ”something”. There are more Muslims than Jews, more business opportunities to the US, there is Russia which can be a partner for all kinds of deals with , most , if not all will not be in Israel’s favor, and there are those American Jews , mostly die hard opponents of Trump. Put blatantly- where can America gain more and with whom. Add up to this THE Trump card of Donald Trump-the UN, more precisely the UNSC and the American veto. Israel, and this is a reminder to the pro-Israel community, is not off the hook with regard to UNSC NO.2334.At any given time, Mr. Trump can order even our great friend Nikki Haley to abstain when this resolution will be represented again. So, PM Netanyahu is constantly and subtly reminded as to the narrowness of his scope of diplomatic maneuverability.

That brings us back to the Israeli leader who must be fully aware of the reality of Trump the President, not Trump of the later stages of his campaign. To start with, how do you negotiate with a visibly impatient President, with a driven and vindictive leader, and on top of all that, with a politically besieged leader as Trump is these days. The wheels of possible impeachment are already in motion, and while it is far too early to predict any final result, it is time to make a comparison with another besieged President, Richard M. Nixon. American foreign policy did not stop when he was declining politically, and he himself was playing the game of showing off and being in full mastery of his foreign policy, but in actual terms he was not. The dominant Kissinger on the one hand, and Congress , on the other hand, were at the helm. Congress now is very pro Israel still , and not pro deals at all costs with the Palestinians, but there is no kissinger, and the professional echelons of the foreign and defense policy establishment are not favorable to us. Kris Bauman alongside McMaster in the NSC are just one example. They may be counterbalanced by Greenblatt and others, but as of now, their impact seems to be dominant. Netanyahu is clearly aware of all that, as he has to be, and he is also aware of the Bennetts in his government, who day in day out, work hard to prove that Israel has no foreign policy, only domestic one. Who really want to be in Netanyahu’s shoes these days?. Clearly, some Israeli politicians do, but Netanyahu is the one who has to make one of the greatest decisions of his political career-how to handle an American President who sets every day a new record of being unconventional, different, unpredictable .

Playing for time has always served Netanyahu well in his career, and it may be the case again, but this time he will find it impossible to get beyond this mine field of the visit, without leaving someone very irritated. The stakes are SO high, and as a final reminder, Donald J. Trump is SO impatient.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina