As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prepares for his first meeting with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday, the Arab leader and his advisers are expressing a kind of optimism not heard in years.
The Palestinians are saying they think Trump might be the one — with the right mix of bombast and unpredictability — to restart peace negotiations with Israel with the aim of securing the Palestinians borders, a capital and a state.
It is an unusual moment because hope is not in abundant supply in the Middle East these days.
Most Israelis and Palestinians tell pollsters that they have low expectations of any change beyond the status quo. Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank turns 50 years old in June, and Trump has called a possible Palestinian-Israel accord “the toughest deal in the world.”
Similarly, former U.S. peace negotiators in Washington and their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem say conditions are not right for renewal of talks.
“There’s incredibly low expectations” for the Trump-Abbas meeting, said David Makovsky, a former negotiator and scholar at the Washington Institute for Middle East Studies.
“There’s no context for a grand deal,” he said. Makovsky said neither Trump’s base nor the Jewish American community seems to be pushing for new talks.
Feature image: CPT Palestine (CC)