Home / World / Trump's erratic style and thirst for a deal has some Israeli officials unnerved – Los Angeles Times

Trump's erratic style and thirst for a deal has some Israeli officials unnerved – Los Angeles Times

President Trump‘s erratic style and thirst for what he has called “the ultimate deal” has some Israeli officials anxious about how much he might give away if he can restart long-stalled peace talks with Palestinians.

As they await his arrival Monday in Jerusalem, Israeli officials are trying to attune themselves to Trump’s free-wheeling approach to diplomacy and a new cast of unlikely, untested advisors, including Trump’s son-in-law and two of Trump’s long-time personal attorneys.

They worry in part because since taking office, Trump has hesitated on his campaign pledge to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. White House officials fear such a relocation would infuriate Palestinians, who also claim the city as their capital.

Trump’s visit comes a week before he must sign the same national security waiver that his predecessors have signed every six months since 1995 to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv.

Trump shouldn’t try for a “home run,” or a full-fledged agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, Makovsky said. “When you try to hit the ball out of the park, the odds of striking out are greater,” Makovsky said, pointing to past failed attempts. “But this president might feel he only does home runs; he doesn’t want a single.”

Trump is singularly fixated on delivering a Middle East peace deal, White House officials said, even if that means jettisoning the long-standing U.S. stance that any resolution should be based on a two-state solution. Others in his administration, including Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations, have said the U.S. remains committed to a two-state solution.

Trump’s willingness to consider other endgames to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate has sent State Department diplomats to the history books, dusting off decades-old alternatives to a two-state solution, such as Jordanian rule, confederacy and economic autonomy.

As Trump prepares to land in Israel, his unconventional approach has added to a mood of confusion and caution, said retired Israeli Admiral Ami Ayalon.

Those who didn’t believe in a two-state solution see Trump “as the messiah who would save Israel from the traditional, old concept of two states,” Ayalon, the former director of Israeli domestic security agency Shin Bet and cofounder of the Blue White Future, a political advocacy group, said in an interview.

“He is a different president. He doesn’t owe anything to the [American] Jewish community — most didn’t vote for him— and he doesn’t depend on Jewish money. That makes him much more flexible,” Ayalon said. “Bottom line: No one quite knows what to expect.”

brian.bennett@latimes.com

Twitter: @ByBrianBennett

Staff writers Noah Bierman and Tracy Wilkinson in Washington and special correspondent Joshua Mitnick in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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Source: world

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