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Trump and Netanyahu. In America, as we know, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch
Shimon Shiffer
Trump visit could cost Netanyahu dearly
Op-ed: The two days he spent in Riyadh convinced the American president that if Israel wishes to reach an agreement with its neighbors and to become part of the anti-Iran alliance, it must accept a self-determination of the Palestinian entity within the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.
It may be too early to predict whether US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel is going to be remembered as a turning point on the way to an agreement between Israel and its neighbors—Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and of course the Palestinians—but as Mrs. Sara Netanyahu revealed Monday evening, there is already one noticeable achievement: The prime minister’s “modest” residence, as she called it, was “painted and polished” in honor of Donald and Melania’s visit.

 

 

And so, even before the breakthroughs in the long journey towards an agreement with the Palestinians, which would force all parties to make painful concessions, Trump has already contributed something. Beyond a view of the painted walls, the cameras that entered the Prime Minister’s Residence on Monday evening allowed the Israeli viewer to witness directly—without any PR agents—the dynamics between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, to see who really runs the show. The answer was clear to everyone: The wife Sara.

  

It began at Ben-Gurion Airport with her attack on “the media,” which she says hate her and her husband. “We have something in common,” she told the American president. “Most of the people like us, unlike the media.” Several hours later, we got the images and sounds from the guest’s arrival at the prime minister’s residence with his wife. When Mrs. Netanyahu introduced their son, Yair, to the couple, the prime minister said: “He looks like his mother. Our other son looks like me.”

 

Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu welcome Donald and Melania Trump. The visit’s achievement: The prime minister’s residence was painted and polished in honor of the presidential couple (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)  (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu welcome Donald and Melania Trump. The visit’s achievement: The prime minister’s residence was painted and polished in honor of the presidential couple (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)

 

After Knesset Member Oren Hazan explained to Trump that many people in Israel regard him as “the Israeli Trump,” Sara Netanyahu spoke about the similarity between herself and the president in terms of the people’s affection and the media’s hatred. She promised to elaborate on the issue over dinner. Between one dish and another, the names of media personalities—from here and from there—were likely put on the table as well.

 

This meal could still cost us dearly. In America, as we know, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Netanyahu may find this truth hard to swallow. According to reliable sources, Trump plans to make Netanyahu foot the bill. He is convinced that there is a partner on the other side—and he is uncertain that there is a partner on the Israeli side.

 

In the two days he spent in Riyadh, Trump became convinced that if Israel wishes to reach an agreement with its neighbors and to become part of the anti-Iran alliance, it must pay in Palestinian currency. Israel must accept a self-determination of the Palestinian entity, whose borders will be set according to the 1967 lines and whose capital will be in east Jerusalem. In other words, Trump said to his Israeli hosts: You want an alliance against Iran? You want a regional agreement? You must decide if you are willing to uphold your share of the bargain.

 

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