Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump's Press Conference. Abbas' New Sidekick.The Feeling of Being Welcomed.

I happened to catch most of Trump's press conference yesterday and, as one of Clinton's deplorables,
I found it refreshing.  Once again he gave more than he received and was as un-politically correct as one could be.  Many will argue he was not presidential and perhaps he was not but he was Trump at his best. He gave sensible and sincere responses to reasonable questions and he mocked those he considered were anti-Trump stooges.

He may not be the brightest candle in the traditional sense but he is so far ahead of the mass media types and knows how to play them like a violin.  He spoke the truth when he told them it was important for the public to have faith in them and to feel they could believe what they report.

Obviously the mass media are distrusted and rightfully so because most of the reporters have nothing but contempt for Trump and look down on most Americans.  They live in their bubble world and cannot understand and/or relate to those who helped elect and now support Trump.

Later in the day, Trump signed some legislation blocking imposition of more Obama rules and regulations which would put another knife in the coal industry's heart. The way Obama spoke to these miners, joked with them and invited them to tour the White House, including The Oval Office, was Trump at his best. He may be thin skinned and narcissistic but he is effective and likable and knows how to be genuine.  He does not have the cleverness of Reagan but he does possess a uniqueness that is irrepressible.

Now let's see what he can accomplish against incessant odds and concerted and contrived efforts to ruin his presidency.
Abbas' new side kick. (See 1 below.)


It must feel good to be welcomed. (See 1a below.)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced the surprise appointment of Mahmoud al-Aloul as his deputy in the Fatah party Wednesday night. This is the first time in Fatah’s history that the party has appointed a deputy. The move and the man are both seen as controversial.
Al-Aloul has a long history in the party’s militant activities. He served for years as an assistant to Khalil al-Wazir, the mastermind of PLO terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1983, al-Aloul led a raid that captured six Israeli soldiers, eventually returning those soldiers in a prisoner exchange. When al-Wazir was assassinated, al-Aloul became the chief for the PLO’s activities in the West Bank and Gaza. He returned to the West Bank in 1995, where he became governor of the Nablus region before joining the parliament in 2006 and rising to Fatah’s highest body, the Central Committee, in 2009.
Within Fatah’s upper echelons, al-Aloul assumed the portfolio of mobilization and organization within the party, and in that role he has had an active presence. He is frequently spotted leadingprotests in the West Bank, and in November of last year, he gave a speech where he declared: “When we talk about our enemies, we talk about the [Israeli] occupation and the United States.”
Al-Aloul’s appointment likely raises the specter of a protracted power struggle when Abbas, now 81, departs the scene. There is already a quiet but contentious battle underway among the party’s top players to succeed Abbas. Al-Aloul appears to have surged, but other players include Jibril Rajoub (former West Bank security chief), Marwan Barghouti (a mastermind of terror attacks during the second intifada), Mohammed Dahlan (an exiled former Arafat protégé), and others.
While al-Aloul may be Abbas’ deputy within Fatah, he is technically not Abbas’ anointed successor within the Palestinian Authority. According to Palestinian Basic Law, in the absence of a president, power goes to the speaker of parliament for sixty days. The current speaker is Aziz al-Dweik, a member of Hamas. So, were Abbas to suddenly vacate the presidency, Hamas would still lay claim to the PA, while al-Aloul and his competitors would try to claim Fatah.
In short, the appointment promises to exacerbate the ongoing power struggle within Fatah. As he fends off calls to name a successor, that may be just what Abbas wants.
Grant Rumley is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Evan Charney is an intern. 

JERUSALEM — The Benjamin Netanyahu on the White House podium Wednesday was the Netanyahu of old. Though politically weakened at home, the Israeli prime minister seemed uncharacteristically relaxed and self-confident. The smiles, the handshakes, the joking reference to President Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal” and the prime minister’s grandfatherly banter with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, this was the Netanyahu whom Israelis have not seen in years.
By opening the news conference with a reference to the Jewish people’s painful history, President Trump afforded the prime minister an opportunity to do what he does best, what he did when he first took the world stage as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in 1984. The president gave Prime Minister Netanyahu a chance to make the case for the legitimacy of the Jewish people’s return to their ancestral homeland.
That was more than a rhetorical opportunity. For Mr. Netanyahu and many Israelis, Palestinian denial of that legitimacy is the real reason for the failure of the peace process. From the White House and in the presence of a sympathetic president, the prime minister was finally able to assert that the Palestinian commitment to a two-state solution has long been a hoax, that the Palestinians have employed two narratives, one for international consumption and another for Palestinians at home.
Despite his international protestations, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (like Yasir Arafat before him), has consistently denied that the Jews have a historic connection to the Temple Mount. Far more than arcane arguments over historical minutiae, the Arafat-Abbas tradition of denying a longstanding Jewish link to Jerusalem is the Palestinian’s inimitable way of saying that the Jews are simply the latest wave of Crusaders, that Israel is nothing but a colonialist presence in the Middle East. Just as the crusaders and colonialists of the past ultimately departed, the argument goes, so too will the Jews.
The belief that President Abbas sees the two-state solution as a steppingstone to a one – Arab – state solution leaves many Israelis cynical about the peace process and tiring of the rhetoric about two states. Mr. Trump may have shifted that momentum.
President Trump afforded Prime Minister Netanyahu an opportunity to assert – despite American denials – that Palestinian schools’ textbooks teach Palestinian children to hate Jews. Israelis wholeheartedly believe that accusation to be true. They know of the Fatah Party’s incendiary boast on Facebook that it had killed 11,000 Israelis and that the Palestinian Authority recently named its fourth school for Salah Khalaf, mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes. While President Barack Obama obliquely acknowledged in his eulogy for Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president and prime minister, that “Arab youth are taught to hate Israel from an early age,” Mr. Trump gave Mr. Netanyahu a stage from which to make the accusation explicit.
Outward appearances of confidence notwithstanding, Palestinian leaders undoubtedly understand that the jig is up – gone (for now) are the days in which they can tell the world one story and their people another. That actually gives Israelis hope that – if the Palestinians want political sovereignty – the Palestinian Authority will have to lay the groundwork by forging an entirely different narrative about Israel and Jews.
There is still no reason to assume that President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu can forge a deal. Mr. Trump’s White House is in disarray, Mr. Netanyahu is under investigation for corruption and politically weakened, Mr. Kushner has not a day of diplomatic experience, the other Arab countries that Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu hope will be part of an agreement may or may not cooperate and Palestinian hatred of Jews may be too deeply entrenched.
Yet there is at least cause for a glimmer of hope. On Wednesday, whatever ambivalences about Mr. Trump many Israelis have, they heard from a United States president sympathetic to their story, sensitive to their fears of Iran and committed to their safety. That may matter a great deal. For Israelis who feel safe and protected are infinitely more likely to make accommodations for peace.
Daniel Gordis, Koret distinguished fellow at Shalem College, is the author of “Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn.”

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