President Donald Trump has fundamentally changed the equation in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) said in a Politico interview published Friday, and time is no longer on the Palestinian Authority’s side.
According to the Jewish Home chief, President Trump’s historic December 2017 declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing plans for the relocation of the US embassy removed any incentive for the Palestinian Authority leadership to delay final status talks, potentially making negotiations with Israel more likely.
The declaration, argued Bennett, has the potential to “allow, or accelerate peace, or enable peace.”
“The Palestinians,” said Bennett, “over the past 50 years, had a very simple strategy. Time was on their side, so they’ll just wait. And every time they wait, they get a better deal. If you look through ’93, through 2000, in 2007 the deal just got better. So why not wait? What he’s actually done is reverse that vector, that trend, and suddenly, the Palestinians realize that time is not necessarily on their side, and maybe they should start moving.”
Following President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, Palestinian Authority officials declared Trump administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, persona non grata in the PA, and snubbed the Vice President during his January visit to Israel.
PA chief Mahmoud Abbas has sought an alternative to direct talks with Israel and has refused to consider the Trump administration an honest broker for negotiations since Trump’s December declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Abbas recently addressed the UN Security Council and called on the international community to hold a Middle East peace conference as an alternative to a U.S.-led talks between Israel and the PA.
“They’re not talking to the Americans; not talking to the Israelis,” Bennett said of the PA leadership. “They’ve sort of fell in love with being the victim, the eternal victim, even though there’s so much good stuff that we can do together.”
Reports this week, however, indicate that Abbas is facing growing pressure within the Arab world to return to the negotiating table under the auspices of the Trump administration.