Donald Trump’s national security advisor described the President’s foreign policy approach as “disruptive” on the eve of the U.S. president’s first White House meeting with the Palestinian leader, saying his unconventional ways could create an opportunity to ultimately help stabilize the Middle East. Maybe it’s not disruptive.
Trump faces deep skepticism at home and abroad over his chances for an improved relationship with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, not least because the new U.S. administration has yet to elaborate on a cohesive strategy for reintroducing long-stalled peace talks.
Seeming to brush aside such concerns, national security advisor McMaster told an Israel Independence Day celebration in Washington on Tuesday night that Trump “does not have time to debate over doctrine” and instead prefers to repair failed policies of the past with a businessman’s results-oriented approach.
Trump’s unpredictability has angered friends and foes alike around the globe. Some analysts doubt Trump can succeed where experienced Middle East hands failed for decades. In particular, trust between Israelis and Palestinians is at a low point.
“The president is not a super-patient man,” McMaster said. “Some people have described him as disruptive. They’re right. And this is good – good because we can no longer afford to invest in policies that do not advance the interests and values of the United States and our allies.”
Trump’s meeting with Abbas, the Western-backed head of the Palestinian Authority, will be another test of whether Trump, in office a little more than 100 days, is serious about pursuing what he has called the “ultimate deal” of Israeli-Palestinian peace that eluded his predecessors.
Abbas’s White House talks on Wednesday follow a mid-February visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who moved quickly to reset ties after a frequently combative relationship with Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama.
Though expectations are low, plans are being firmed up for Trump to visit the right-wing Israeli leader in Jerusalem and possibly Abbas in the West Bank, possibly on May 22-23, according to people familiar with the matter. U.S. and Israeli officials have declined to confirm the visit.