US President Donald Trump spoke at length about the US role facilitating Israeli-Palestinian negotiations when he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday.
Threatening to cut more aid to the Palestinians, he said: “That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace, too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.” He added that the Palestinians “disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great Vice President to see them” and that “respect has to be shown to the US or we’re just not going any further”. Referring to his Jerusalem announcement, Trump said to Netanyahu: “We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don’t have to talk about it anymore… you win one point and you’ll give up some other points later on in the negotiation — if it ever takes place. I don’t know that it ever will take place.”
Netanyahu took the opportunity to thank Trump for recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said: “This is a historic decision that will be forever etched in the hearts of our people for generations to come. People say that this pushes peace backward. I say it pushes peace forward, because it recognises history, it recognises the present reality. And peace can only be built on the basis of truth.”
Looking ahead to his peace plan, Trump said: “We have a proposal for peace, it’s a great proposal for the Palestinians. I think it’s a very good proposal for Israel, it covers a lot of the things we’ve over the years discussed and agreed on.” He added that “I think eventually very sound minds — I hope sound minds — are going to prevail. And it would be a very great achievement of mine”.
Netanyahu told Trump that “we also appreciate the fact that you confront Iran’s aggression with us and with other parties in the region as never before. I’ve never seen the realistic alliance between the United States, Israel and your other allies in the region as strong, as unified, as it is under your leadership. And the last point is that you stood up for Israel at the UN in a remarkable way, rock-solid support,” added Netanyahu. “This is a place, it’s a house of slander against Israel and against the United States, and by word and deed, you have told them, enough is enough”.
Palestinian envoy to the US Husam Zomlot said Trump has “backstabbed” the Palestinians and that he had “violated his own pledge: ‘I do not want to impose, I do not want to dictate.’ Then you come and you want to take the core of the two-state solution out.” “You didn’t take Jerusalem off the table,” Zomlot said, “you took away the whole table, no Palestinian will sit at it”.