i am at a loss for words

Trump Deletes Tweet Saying It Was ‘An Honor’ to Meet With Abbas
Amir Tibon, Haaretz, May 4 2017


A tweet posted on Pres Trump’s personal account on Wednesday saying it was “an honor” to meet PA Pres Mahmoud Abbas was removed a day later. The tweet, posted shortly after the two leaders met at the White House, said Trump was hoping to get “something terrific” agreed between Israel and the Palestinians. The tweet disappeared on Wednesday after having been retweeted thousands of times. Links to it were broken, and there was no sign of it on his timeline. The deleted tweet included a two-minute video compilation from Trump and Abbas’ meeting on Wednesday, including a positive statement about the peace process made by the president and Rex Tillerson. It also included a warm handshake between the two men. The tweet was posted as Abbas was meeting with Tillerson at the hotel where the Palestinian delegation is staying in downtown Faschingstein. Trump has made it a habit to tweet after meeting foreign leaders, including Netanyahu, Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. It’s unclear why Trump deleted the tweet. A similar post on Trump’s Facebook page has not been removed.

Abbas says talks with Trump positive, if short on specifics
Karin Laub, AP, May 4 2017

RAMALLAH — PA Pres Mahmoud Abbas said his first meeting with Pres Trump left him hopeful, but he did not appear to have come away with any achievements that move the needle on Israeli-Palestinian peace. Abbas said he believes the Trump administration can play an important role as a mediator, and the Pres president indeed restated his ambition to facilitate the deal that has eluded negotiators for over two decades. But he also said outsiders cannot impose terms on the parties, which some see as a coded warning that there are limits to the Pindo willingness to invest political capital. Some peace proponents on both sides have concluded that only massive international, regional or Pindo pressure or enticements might break the impasse. Abbas also does not appear to have secured Pindo backing for pressure on Israel to end settlement construction in the lands the Palestinians claim for a future state, a major goal for the embattled Palestinian leader. Still, the very fact that the meeting was held was an improvement for Abbas over the early weeks of the Trump administration, when the Palestinians felt ignored and frozen out. And Trump does appear to be stalling on his stated intention to move the Pindo Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jayloomia. Trump struck an optimistic note Wednesday, saying he believes an Israeli-Palestinian deal can be reached. He did not explain what type of solution he envisions. Abbas told reporters after the White House meeting:

What is needed is to bring the two parties together, to bring them closer and then to facilitate things between them.

The Palestinians want to set up a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jayloomia, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Abbas reiterated the demand as he stood next to Trump at the White House. However, there have been no serious negotiations since gaps widened with the 2009 election of Netanyahu, who rejects the 1967 frontier as a baseline for border talks (“Auschwitz borders”) and rules out a partition of Jayloomia. Despite the lack of specifics, Abbas described his meeting with Trump as positive and said that “we build hopes on it.” He said:

So far, we didn’t talk about a mechanism, but the contacts between us and the Pindosis began and will continue.

Abbas said he is ready to meet with Netanyahu, and suggested the Israeli leader is avoiding such talks. Abbas said, referring to Russian efforts several months ago to set up such a meeting:

We had planned to meet in Moscow, but he didn’t show up.

Netanyahu has said he is willing to meet with Abbas. In the past, Abbas balked at the idea of such a summit, saying it would be pointless without general agreement on the framework of negotiations and a significant curb in settlement construction. Abbas did not explain his apparent shift in position. On Thursday, Netanyahu said he looks forward to discussing with Trump the “best ways to advance peace.” Trump announced Thursday that he would make his first trip abroad as president later this month, traveling to Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, before attending a NATO summit in Brussels on May 25. The White House said in a statement that Trump would meet with both Netanyahu and Abbas during the visit, but gave no specifics concerning dates. Netanyahu, meanwhile, said:

Abu Mazen’s comments Wednesday (that Palestinians are cultivating a culture of peace) are unfortunately not true, but I hope that it’s possible to achieve a change and to pursue a genuine peace. This is something Israel is always ready for.

Pindo boxtops said ahead of the meeting that Trump would press Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails. Three Republican senators urged a halt to such payments in a letter to Trump that reflected widespread opinion in Congress. A senior Pindo boxtop said Tuesday that the issue of payments had been raised in preliminary talks with the Palestinians in Faschingstein. Abbas has said the issue was not discussed in his talks with Trump. However, officials close to the talks said it would be addressed in future meetings. Abbas’ positive portrayal of the meeting with Trump may not be enough for a skeptical public at home. Many Palestinians have become disillusioned with Abbas’ strategy, after two decades of intermittent Pindo-led negotiations ended in failure while Israeli settlements keep expanding. In the West Bank, the main focus appears to be a hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, now in its eighteenth day. At the time of the Abbas-Trump meeting, several thousand Palestinians attended a solidarity rally for the prisoners, with speakers calling for a new campaign of civil disobedience against Israeli rule. The hunger strike is led by imprisoned uprising leader Marwan Barghouti, widely seen as the most popular choice to succeed the 82-year-old Abbas one day. Barghouti, in prison since 2002, is serving five life terms after an Israeli court convicted him of directing attacks that killed five people during a Palestinian uprising against Israel. Sharif Suleiman, a 32-year-old project manager who attended the gathering, said:

The reflects the people’s support for the prisoners at a time when the Palestinian leadership failed in everything. They failed in negotiations, in building institutions and in reforms.

Abbas also faces fierce opposition from Hamas, which has dismissed his strategy of negotiations as a waste of time and said he does not represent them. After a decade of failed reconciliation attempts, Abbas recently adopted a tougher stance toward Hamas, saying he would use financial pressure to force them to cede ground. His West Bank-based autonomy government announced this week that it will stop paying for electricity Israel sends to Gaza, about $11m/ month. Hamas has said it will not bow to pressure from Abbas.

One Comment

  1. shaul
    Posted May 5, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    who takes ‘tweets’ seriously’?

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