Israel can’t compete with Saudi Arabia for nicer pictures of Trump’s visit, Israel will not have a sword dance nor does it have a gold plated palace for his comfort. Trump will stay at the 5 star King David Hotel but his official dinner will take place in the prime minister’s residence on Balfour street pictures of which went viral when Sarah Netanyahu showed the world the damp walls and the great need for repair.
But while Israel can’t compete visually with Saudi Arabia, news wise there is bound to be close competition. Trump remains a riddle making ever changing declarations on topics including Israel. He is also here hardly 100 days into his administration with the distinction of being the president most persecuted by scandals, the press and even people in his administration.
One scandal which is bound to have impact in Israel is that of Trump’s supposed releasing of sensitive info to senior Russians which could
endanger the countries that provided the info; especially if Israel may have been the information source. If this is true, an operative spying on ISIS for Israel who infiltrated the group may be in mortal danger. Predictions are Trump will try to calm down the angry intelligence community.
Trump will also bring up Israel Palestinian peace talks hoping to conclude a deal. When Abu Mazen visited the White House last month Trump said: “Let’s see if we can find a solution. Honestly, it may not be as hard as people thought all these years. But we need two partners ready to make a deal.”
The Israeli right was very pleased with Trump’s election. He promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem though he hasn’t yet delivered and may not. He also surrounded himself with senior staff some of which are Orthodox Jews. David Freedman is his ambassador to Israel and Jason Greenblatt is his special emissary for Middle East Affairs who happens to have children learning in (Right leaning) Jerusalem Torah institutions.
But Trump’s staff notwithstanding, Netanyahu and his cabinet can’t sit on their laurels. Trump needs to bring a trophy home and renewing the peace talks is the most urgent thing to him. Warmly hosting Abu Mazen last month was part of his efforts to make it happen. He also sent message through his staff that the embassy is staying put in Tel Aviv meanwhile and he won’t give a straight answer when asked if Jerusalem is capital of Israel.
The peace model he may seek might be based on the 2002 model where Israel basically goes to 1967 borders including east Jerusalem in exchange for normalization withal Arab countries. Saudi officials mentioned the peace option outright to Trump during his visit. The Saudi Foreign Minister together with his American counterpart announced: “We believe that President Trump has the power and the decisiveness necessary, and the Saudi kingdom is prepared to work with the US to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Saudi Arabia and Trump see Israel PA peace as a stabilizer in the region strengthening the coalition against Iran who is the region’s biggest threat. They may pressure Israel to seek that peace though it would hardly stabilize the region only reward the Palestinians terror with getting what they want which will further destabilize the region as it encourages more terror from the Palestinians and all other terror groups who will get the message too.
So Trump has to really decide what message he will bring to the Middle East, who he will reward and what he will get in return.