Trump sends signals-Does Bibi listens and internalize?

Donald Trump is not exactly known for his patience, for his good manners , for his adherence to diplomatic protocol and all kinds of other niceties, not exactly a soft, kind guy, but forget all this when it comes to Israel.He really surprises me with how patient he is with PM Netanyahu and the question of settlements. So patient, but let us all not make any mistake here-patience has its limits, and 15 February, when the PM goes to Washington may be the beginning of the end of patience and good guy Mr. President. The great prophet Ezekiel [chapter 12] said to us way back;”They have eyes to see, but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear”. Here is the President of our great ally[my interpretation]; stop the diversion called settlements, get to the serious business of making peace, and remember the Arab states, and do not forget-I ,unlike Barack Hussein Obama, is your friend. What is NOT clear here about the settlements? , It is crystal clear, unless you forget Ezekiel..or if you listen only to Bennett, Hotovali and co.

The National Camp in Israel should internalize a painful truth[very painful to me personally]; The settlements are passe, yes they are. No one, but for some guests of Yesha Council is in support of them being our number one national priority, and we are LUCKY, very much so, that we could exercise our indisputable national right to settle ALL over our homeland, and are LUCKY that we can also use this tremendous project as a significant bargaining card in any future negotiations[if there are to be] , but we should not make them the one and only pillar of our national strategy. The Regulations Law was a mistake, the rush to announce new settlements projects is a mistake, and the expectation that Trump will give us carte blanche to build was and will continue to be delusional. We should turn our attention elsewhere, and take Trump on his own words with regard to Iran, but also with regard to the inclusion of Arab countries in a creative peace initiative. When Trump talks about that , he leaves us the ball for a punch back, and he does not mean settlements. The possibility of a regional initiative has quite obvious attractions to Israel, though not without risks. First, there is Iran, and when you throw Iran to the equation, you create an incentive and interest which are
common to Israel and the most influential Arab states of the Middle East. Any initiative should be based on a common denominator strong enough to offer , at least, a departure point. This is the one-Iran, and this is where Trump signals that he could be on board with us . Take him on his word-come with an Iranian initiative, and at the same time do not abandon the Palestinian

NO Arab country, Egypt included, will be happy to be seen in bed with Israel, without some move on the Palestinian front, and here too we may have an opening to be explored seriously. It is clear, that Trump does not like the Palestinian Authority [PA],and it is abundantly clear, that Israel does not rank Abbas too high on its fan club list, but more importantly, also Saudi Arabia ,Egypt and Jordan are far from being thrilled with Abbas and the PA. An initiative without Abbas may be irrelevant in the long run, but at this stage, the idea is to enter negotiations, and have Abbas accept it not from the position of strength that Kerry and Obama put him in with UNSC 2334, but from a position of no choice, when Trump with Egypt ,Saudi Arabia and Jordan backing, tell him that there will NOT be any more such resolutions. Will it be enough to have him in?,no one can be sure, but everyone can be sure, that he will never be in with a repeat performance of 2334, and THAT he will not get from Trump. New Settlements simply do not fit into all that. Netanyahu declares all the time, that he is ready for talks, and hence he has an opportunity to do that, but for that to happen, he will commit to Trump NOT to indulge with settlements , and will most likely get a firm commitment from the President, to forcefully resist ANY Palestinians one-sided steps through the .

Netanyahu can do that, and this is not to forget Bennett and co.-a simple question to them-you prefer Herzog over Netanyahu? you prefer new elections over the current government?, and an historic reminder to them; In 1992 they brought down the Shamir government. In 1993 we all got OSLO!. Starting negotiations under Trump tutelage with Arab participation will ease off considerably the pressure on Israel, and if hopefully[a BIG IF] they will ripen enough for the Israeli public to make a decision, then the moment of truth for the National Camp will come.

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