House Members Divided About Trump’s Optimism on ME Peace

WASHINGTON – Similar to almost every appearance by President Donald Trump, his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday afternoon was met with great anticipation and a sense of unpredictability. “I will do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement… And we will get this done,” asserted Trump.

Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) was not convinced that the real estate mogul turned Commander in Chief will bring a resolution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Arizona lawmaker told Jewish Insider, “This is not a real estate deal you are putting together. An effort without content and just blowing smoke is a huge mistake given his reversal of positions on foreign affairs, it begs the question whether he can handle it or not.”

On the other hand, Republican House Members expressed appreciation for the President’s commitment and handling of the issue. “Like everyone else, I want to see peace there. I think the President deserves a chance,” noted James Comer (R-KY). “He’s our leader and does things a different way and maybe that’s what we need in foreign policy. As a leader of the strongest nation of the world, he is an appropriate negotiator.”

While Abbas called for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital during his White House remarks, Trump declined to endorse the two state solution, just as he refrained from doing so when meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MS) explained, “That has been our policy across Democratic and Republican administrations. It has served us well. Saying the opposite could stir up the hornet’s nest. I would hope that as usual — the President just forgot.”

Putting aside the question of a two state solution, Robert Aderholt (R-AL) believes the President offers a unique perspective. The Alabama lawmaker told Jewish Insider, “I know this is an issue that is very near and dear to his heart because Israel is one of those issues he talked quite a bit about during the campaign.” Hosting both Netanyahu and Abbas during the first few months of his presidency “sends a strong message that he is interested in moving forward and try to get a peace agreement,” Aderholt added.

While repeatedly pushing for a “deal,” Trump did not mention any of the thorny final status agreements that have long divided the parties including East Jerusalem, refugees, or borders. The Republican leader did find the time to praise Abbas. “That seems to be consistent with his (Trump) foreign relations strategy to get people to like him. That might work with a few Members of Congress, not many of them. That’s not going to work (here),” emphasized Cleaver.

When asked if he agreed with Trump’s proposal for the “ultimate deal,” Aderholt responded, “It’s important to what the deal says. Did he elaborate on what was in the deal? That really is the $64,000 question.” The US President did not offer any details on Wednesday. Noting the ongoing violence that has resulted from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Cleaver warned, “Moses would have great difficulty getting a deal as would Abraham so this is not a business deal. This is the Middle East and it involves people who have been at war for almost a millennium.”

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