Monday saw an awkward turn in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and President Donald Trump’s “friends for ever” relationship, which is still being sorted out. And there was a shift in President Trump’s relationship with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, whose government has been attacking Trump’s Jerusalem declaration and went as far as declaring Vice President Mike Pence persona non grata in Ramallah last time he asked to visit.
As we reported here Monday night (Netanyahu Claims He Discussed Annexing Settlements with US), it began with Netanyahu telling a Likud Knesset faction meeting that he has been engaged in ongoing talks with the Americans about Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria for some time, which received an all out denial from the same Americans, who basically said Bibi was lying.
An obviously hurt Bibi later issued a statement—not personal but via the PM’s office—saying, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu updated the Americans on the initiatives being raised in the Knesset, and the Americans expressed their unequivocal position that they are committed to advancing President Trump’s peace plan.”
Remember President Trump’s peace plan, where he declared he would support whatever Israel and the PA decided? Yes, well, that’s no longer an option, apparently.
According to both the White House and the Kremlin, on Monday Trump and Putin spoke on the phone, and, according to the American version, “President Putin noted that he would meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later today, and President Trump said that now is the time to work toward an enduring peace agreement.”
Now the Moscow version: TASS reported that Putin said on Monday evening he had “just had a telephone conversation with his US counterpart, Donald Trump.”
“I have just spoken over the phone with United States President Mr. Trump. Naturally, we spoke about the Palestinian-Israeli settlement,” Putin said at the beginning of talks with his guest, Mahmoud Abbas.
“I would like to convey to you his best wishes,” Putin added, referring to Trump.
“The Russian leader noted the depth and quality of the Russian-Palestinian relations and suggested the talks be focused on the situation in the region and bilateral ties,” TASS reported, noting that Putin commented that the situation in the region “is far from what we want to see.”
The fact is, President Trump turned on a dime Monday – which was exactly what Netanyahu had been fearing when he vetoed the cabinet vote on a bill to apply Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. The PM slipped on Monday, reporting on informing the White House about the sovereignty talks without first discussing it with Jason Goldblatt, Jared Kushner, or, at least, Ambassador David Friedman. Just because you’re right, Bibi, don’t mean the Trump administration won’t be using “alternative facts” on you.
But that was not the half of it. A Monday PA press release suggested there has been a behind-the-scenes effort to bring the US back into the center of the Israel-PA peace talks, of which Netanyahu may not have been aware.
According to WAFA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Cairo on Monday, and told him the US should “revive negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.”
The Egyptians later confirmed “Egypt’s clear and unwavering stance on reaching a fair and comprehensive solution that guarantees the right of Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem in line with the June 1967 borders in accordance with international resolutions.”
Like we said: awkward…