Trump’s hopes for the 'Deal of the Century' dashed by Netanyahu election loss - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

Trump’s hopes for the 'Deal of the Century' dashed by Netanyahu election loss

U.S. President Trump relied on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to realize the Israeli-Palestinian “peace plan,” which he described as the Deal of the Century. The Trump-Netanyahu relationship has taken precedence over U.S.-Israel ties. Trump's Israeli policy focused on keeping Netanyahu in power. In this context, Trump has provided Israel with great gains that it could not achieve under normal circumstances. Netanyahu portrayed these gains in his election campaigns as a result of his personal relationship with Trump. Photographs showing Netanyahu and Trump together were front and center in the campaign poster of the Likud party in both the April 9 and September 17 elections.

We should note that Democrat and liberal Jews in the United States are uncomfortable with Trump's basing of Israeli policy on the personal relationship he has established with Netanyahu. Democrats and mainstream Republicans have long supported the two-state solution in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu's annexation policies undermine this agreement. It was noteworthy that Trump’s team for the peace plan did not refer to a two-state solution.

Trump uses Netanyahu-centric Israeli policy as leverage in domestic politics. He is banking on the Israeli Lobby’s financial resources to carry him and his fellow Republicans in the 2020 elections. Christian-Zionist Evangelicals, on the other hand, provide Republicans with strategic mass support. For Trump, who wants to be re-elected in 2020, any Netanyahu-centric Israeli policy is one of the effective means of maintaining the alliance with this constituent.

However, the winds at home didn’t blow favorably, and Netanyahu again could not find relief after the second snap elections, as the Likud party, which came first on 9 April, became the second party in the Sept. 17 elections. Netanyahu's defeat means the defeat of Trump. Trump's frustration also affected the fate of the so-called peace plan. Trump was planning to announce the plan a few days after the election. This statement, however, hinged on Netanyahu's election victory. As a result, Trump's peace plan, based on Netanyahu's influence, has imploded. Now, Trump makes light of his miscalculation, arguing that Israeli policy is not “personal,” but “institutional.”

Three days after the elections, Trump sent Middle East Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Israel for damage control. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer also attended Greenblatt’s special meeting with Netanyahu. The parties did not make any statement, but, according to reports, they discussed the fate of Trump's peace plan, the course of government-building efforts and the recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

In the Israeli elections, the “Blue-White” bloc surpassed Netanyahu's Likud party by two seats. Benny Gantz, former Chief of General Staff, is the prime ministerial candidate for this bloc, which is called the Center Left wing. Trump and the White House have never looked to establish contact with Gantz. Benny Gantz was all but absent from the delegation that managed Trump's peace plan. After meeting with Netanyahu, Greenblatt plans to sit down with Gantz at an as of yet undisclosed date. The circles that support Netanyahu are watching this development carefully. The question that comes to mind is whether Trump is moving away from Netanyahu.

Trump said that he would meet with Netanyahu to sign a U.S.-Israeli mutual defense agreement. Trump said the meeting would begin after the UN Summit. Benny Gantz, on the other hand, does not look too kindly on any deal that would shackle Israel. Netanyahu did not attend the UN Summit. Trump announced that he would not meet with Iranian President Rouhani at the Summit. If Netanyahu had secured a win that would have enabled him to form a government, the situation could have been different. At this stage, Trump's plans for Netanyahu seem to have collapsed. Netanyahu was the most important domino piece in Trump's game. The fall of this piece will knock the rest down, one after the other.


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