US President Donald Trump embarked this morning on his first international trip, with the first country on his scheduled tour, Saudi Arabia, where Trump is expected to attend a regional summit of moderate Sunni-Muslim states, to bolster Washington’s relations with them and urge them to elevate their efforts in combating Islamic terrorism. Following his trip to Saudi Arabia, President Trump will head to Israel, where preparations are underway to assure the safety of the American leader, with more than 10,000 police officers deployed for the operation.
“The Israeli national police have completed security arrangements for the forthcoming visit of the President of the United States, Trump. Involved in the security operation are more than 10,000 police officers with a wide range of units, including undercover units, special patrol units and counter terrorism units. And full coordination is being made by the Israeli national police and American security. The Israeli police will be securing all of the different sites where President Trump will be visiting and escorting the president from the different areas, including the hotel area which will be locked down throughout the 48-hour visit. And our police unit will respond to any incidents, if necessary, at any time or any place,” said Micky Rosenfeld, Israeli Police Spokesman.
Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders are highly anticipating President Trump’s arrival, as the American leader seeks to re-start the long-stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians; nevertheless, according to Professor Eytan Gilboa, an expert on Israel-US relations from Bar Ilan University, the political scene in both Jerusalem and Ramallah is not yet ripe to make any serious concessions that could bring about a comprehensive peace agreement.
“This (visit) represents also a challenge to the Netanyahu government. The political scene in Israel would be very difficult for meaningful negotiations and in any event, it seems that the two sides are not yet ready to make those serious concessions needed to reach a comprehensive final agreement,” said Gilboa.
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring on several occasions Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution, not all members of his narrow government agree with the establishment of a Palestinian state. Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Bayit Ha-Yehudi faction stressed that even though he and his party want peace, they do not believe that establishing a Palestinian state in the head of Israel was “the right way to go.”
“What we expect to discuss with him is how to build peace bottom-up but not through the old, failed notion of founding a second Palestinian state in the heart of Israel.” / We need peace, but we need the right peace, and peace will never be achieved by cutting through the heart of our country,” said Bennett.
Israelis, however, welcome President Trump with caution, voicing their expectation that the American leader would follow through on his promise to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move they said would attest to whether Israel could truly trust him, or not.
I expect that Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem, to Israel as he promised and that he will cut us some slack, he sees what’s going on in the country,” said Haya Levi, Tel Aviv Resident.
“My expectations are that the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem because this is an act that should echo across the world. The moment that you don’t move… When you promise but don’t move (the embassy) is the moment when you lose your credibility. If he won’t move the embassy, he will lose my trust in him,” said Yehuda Ezra, Tel Aviv Resident.
Palestinians, in both the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, voiced complete distrust in the American President and pointing to the close relations between Washington and Jerusalem as opposed to the US-Arab relations.
“We are interested in peace and progress (in the political situation) but I do not think so, I do not expect anything from him (Donald Trump),” said Ra’eda al Salhot, Palestinian resident of Jerusalem. “The visit of (Donald) Trump does not have any value at all. Israel does not get convinced with anything in the world,” Kamal Maswadeh, Palestinian resident of Jerusalem. “There is nothing good behind it (visit) because Israel as we said, Israel is a state of America, an American state, so it is not possible that America will push on Israel for the Arabs,” Ismael al-Faqaawi, Resident of the Gaza Strip.
While welcoming Trump’s efforts and committing themselves to work with him, some Palestinian officials remain wary that he has yet to publicly back a two-state solution, the longtime bedrock of U.S. and international policy. Nevertheless, American officials tell TV7 that Trump is sincere in his efforts to broker a political process that would ultimately bring about a viable agreement that will provide Israel with peace and security, and the Palestinians with their desired self-determination.