Photo: Motti Kimchi
Photo: Motti Kimchi

Israeli security expert cites Trump-Netanyahu meeting as missed opportunity

Despite the PM's friendly greeting by US President Trump on Wednesday, National Security Studies Head Amos Yadlin sees the meeting a fumble for the PM, who could have used the opportunity to cement a viable, two-state solution; 'We must see whether a healthy foundation is being laid down for the long-term,' says Yadlin.

Following US President Donald Trump's visibly warm meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli security expert Amos Yadlin said that while seemingly positive, Netanyahu's invite to the White House was not well-played by the Israeli leader.



Trump opened his joint news conference on Wednesday with a vow to encourage a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. But the president said the two parties themselves "must directly negotiate such an agreement." He added that "I'm looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like."


Yadlin (Photo: Chen Galili)
Yadlin (Photo: Chen Galili)


"I'd like to see you pull back on settlements for a little bit," Trump told Netanyahu. The Israeli leader later insisted that Jewish settlements were "not the core of the conflict" and made no commitment to reduce settlement building.


The American leader broke with his predecessors on the idea of a two-state agreement. While such an accord may have once appeared to be the "easier of the two" options, Trump said he'd be open to alternatives if the two sides propose something better.


Trump echoed Netanyahu's calls for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state – something they have refused to do – and to halt incitement against Israelis.


However friendly the meeting between the two leaders might have been, some security experts in Israel have voiced concern that Netanyahu missed an opportunity to actually move forward with restarting an attainable peace process. One such expert was Institute for National Security Studies Head Amos Yadlin, who spoke to Ynet on Thursday, saying that Netanyahu's meeting with Trump failed to begin work toward a broader vision for Israel and the Palestinians. "The conversation between Trump and the prime minister should have touched upon what kind of Israel we would like to lead in the long term, and in this regard I'm not sure any work was done."


Yadlin, who is also a former Military Intelligence chief, said that "In the short-term, we saw a friendly, heartfelt, sympathetic meeting, with the relationship between the two countries given new breath." He added that "I think this is the end to the internationalization strategy, de-legitimization and the Palestinians' refusal to negotiate. That said, we cannot celebrate the short-term; rather, we must see whether a healthy foundation is being laid down for the long-term."


Netanyahu's meeting with Trump has garnered responses from the political right and left in Israel, with Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) calling it a new era and saying that "We must look ahead and shape a new strategic approach in light of the new reality." Yadlin, however, underscored that while the meeting did appear positive, at present Trump's main concern is not the Middle East. "His administration is busy with itself and with the war that has been raging with a very large opposition from within."


Yadlin stressed that the idea of a Palestinian state did not die at the White House's Trump-Netanyahu meeting, and that the Arab World certainly has not forgotten it. "Whoever thinks that one state spells good tidings for Israel is making a grave mistake. On state is a significant strategic misstep for Israel. It can either be a non-democratic state, since we are not granting (Palestinians—ed) the right to vote, or a non-Jewish state, since its Jewish majority would be called into question. We therefore need to structure what we want and come to an agreement with the president over how to accomplish it."


Following Trump's request to halt settlement development in Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu reportedly told reporters that Israel should consider granting his petition, due to Trump's considerable friendliness toward Israel. Yadlin, however, sees this as another missed chance. "We already have a letter from President Bush from 2004, saying that he recognizes the geographic and demographic changes in the settlement blocks and the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and that the US will not react harshly if it sees any building carried out there by us. We don't, however, build in areas we understand will be under Palestinian control in the long run."


Yadlin said he felt that Netanyahu chose not to follow up with a two-state policy that would have cemented Israel's claim to areas that were already somewhat agreed upon under Bush. "Netanyahu had an opportunity here, and he's missing it because of the right pressuring him to get 'an improved Bush letter' that recognizes the blocks … If the prime minister would have approached this administration with Zionist ideas that strengthen the State of Israel, we would be in a much better situation that with (the idea of) one state that we do not want."


פרסום ראשון: 02.16.17, 16:43
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