'The goal is to achieve peace, not to establish two states'

Elliot Abrams, a former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, discusses Donald Trump's policies regarding the Middle East.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Netanyahu and Trump
Netanyahu and Trump
Hezki Baruch

"Donald Trump made a mistake when he objected to my appointment as Deputy Secretary of State. He should have looked at who could help the Trump administration and not looked back at his campaign," said Elliot Abrams in a Walla News interview. Abrams, who was Secretary of State Tillerson's choice for his deputy, was rejected by President Trump. A known Israel supporter, Abrams served in senior posts in the Reagan and Bush administrations and said that Israel had also expressed disappointment that he was not appointed.

Abrams, who is visiting Israel to participate in a Jewish People Policy Institute conference, addressed the president's intentions regarding the Arab-Israel conflict. He said that "I do not believe that Trump's statement about one or two-state solutions means he is abandoning all previous policies in Washington. He meant to say that previous policies had not worked, we're still failing."

"The goal is not two states. The goal is peace," said Abrams. " So let's think of ways to move forward towards peace. The administration wants to involve more Arab countries in the process. I think this is the logical approach but I'm skeptical about its results."

Abrams feels that President Trump should not be involved in efforts to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians but "its obvious that he would want to achieve a breakthrough where Clinton,Bush and Obama failed in the Middle East. This is one of the reasons he involved his son-in-law Jared Kushner in the matter -this is a sign of his commitment."

Abrams advises Kushner to learn from the past and study all the documents and talk with State Department historians as well as former senior American officials and negotiators. He says in this way he can learn why past efforts have failed.

Abrams believes that the administration has returned to the Bush administrations approach which was not concerned by natural growth in Judea and Samaria but did try to prevent territorial expansion. "A few weeks ago the White House used the expression "foothold in the West Bank". I understand this to be a call on Israeli leaders to exercise some restraint, as Bush asked Sharon. The US does not want to see territorial expansion at a time when it is trying to assess whether the peace process can be rejuvenated."

Abrams says he hopes the president will fulfill his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem but stressed that this is a long process. "A campus must be built including office rooms and a house for the ambassador and all the embassy staff must be transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, so it's a question of finding accommodation. If the move is planned from now it will still take five or six years," said Abrams.