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'Just as Trump pressures them, he can also pressure us'

Prof. Shmuel Sandler warns Trump could pressure Israel just as he pressures the PA.
Shimon Cohen,

Prof. Shmuel Sandler, an expert on US policy and a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat for Strategic Studies, on Wednesday discussed in an interview with Arutz Sheva the policy of President Donald Trump toward the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the decision to shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington being just another means of applying pressure on the PA.

"We know that this president is behaving differently from the norm. This has been proven in both domestic and foreign policies. In addition, he values Israel as a country with economic and technological skills. He also faces internal pressure from the Evangelical community. As a result, he tries to achieve his concept of a ‘deal’ which he tries to accomplish using the methods of business people and not the methods of diplomats who are always looking to silence problems and try to bring the parties together by dimming the gaps. He does not do that,” said Sandler.

"Regarding the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, he understands that there are three main issues: Jerusalem, the ‘right of return’ and the borders. He is trying to soften the issues on which we have been stuck for 30 years, if not since 1967. He began with Jerusalem, continued with UNRWA, pressed on the issue of the transfer of funds to eastern Jerusalem and is now exerting pressure by bringing the Palestinians back to the period before 1988, when [Yasser] Arafat was ready to recognize Israel in exchange for the opening of a representation in Washington. Trump is making clear to them that if they continue in this way, they will deteriorate further into the days before 1988, the days of their greatest political breakthrough,” continued Sandler.

"At the same time there is additional pressure, though I do not know how real it is, but we are hearing about it from different channels: He is threatening the PA when he says that he will force Israel to negotiate with Hamas, and that is also a sort of threat."

Asked whether these factors will likely lead the PA to the conclusion, which they have already publicly declared, that the US is no longer a mediator in the negotiations and whether that should worry Trump, Prof. Sandler replied, "It is clear to everyone that without the United States, Israel will not enter negotiations and will not give anything. When the United States is on the sidelines and Russia and Europe are involved, nothing will happen. [Trump] is not afraid of such a situation."

As for speculations that the US will eventually also pressure Israel, Prof. Sandler estimated that such pressure will indeed come.

"That's what we have to be afraid of, because if he knows how to pressure them so much, he will also be able to pressure us, but we will worry about that when it happens.”
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