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No One Knows What Trump Will Mean For The Middle East — Not Even Trump

During the Republican Party primaries, Trump argued he would be a more even-handed umpire in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians than previous US presidents. But despite garnering the support of known anti-Semites and evidence emerging that he or his campaign were visiting anti-Semitic websites, he managed to win the implicit support of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump and his surrogates have argued for Israeli annexation of the West Bank and recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, policies that would favor Israel far more than even past Republican administrations.
With the presidency and majorities in Congress, Trump could easily push through such radical policy changes. Yet some wonder whether he would. For one thing, he and his advisers’ positions on Israel have been all over the map. For another, making such moves might be too costly. George W. Bush signed a bill recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel, but held off on implementing for fear it would create more problems than it would solve.
“It will anger all the Arab states,” said a Karel Valansi, a writer for the Turkish Jewish newspaper Salom and T24, a news website. “Now the Arab–Israeli conflict is dormant. Making big changes might mean the fragile relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel will break down, and there will be another wave of problems in the area.”
A senior Israeli official in the prime minister’s office said there was no expectation that a Trump White House would try to push a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. “Through channels close to Trump, Netanyahu has understood that this White House will be friendly towards Israeli policy. There will not be the same condemnation towards the [West Bank] settlements that we saw under Obama, and before him Bush,” said the official, who added that Sheldon Adelson, the American casino mogul and billionaire backer of Trump, had directly communicated with Netanyahu to assure him over what a Trump White House would look like. “We are being told this will be a very friendly White House to Israel.”
But other Israelis sensed a new era. On Wednesday morning, Naftali Bennett, the minister of education, said in a press release: “Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the centre of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause. “This is the position of the president-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. The era of a Palestinian state is over.”


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