By BB Portnoy
Aides to President-elect Donald Trump are cautioning outgoing President Barack Obama to refrain from moving forward with any end-of-term initiatives — including a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace push — that Trump opposes, Politico reported on Thursday.
“On big, transformative issues where President Obama and President-elect Trump are not in alignment, I don’t think it’s in keeping with the spirit of the transition… to try to push through agenda items that are contrary to the president-elect’s positions,” an unnamed Trump national security adviser was quoted as telling Politico. “It’s not going to be just counterproductive, but it will also send mixed messages.”
In an interview with The Algemeiner on Wednesday, Jonathan Schanzer — vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank in Washington, DC — said Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential election could make Obama feel “less encumbered” about launching a lame-duck diplomatic initiative in the Israeli-Palestinian realm.
Schanzer emphasized, however, that it was still unclear what, if anything, Obama would do regarding the matter before Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
In remarks at a New York City gathering on Thursday, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said, “I think that the end of an administration is not a good time to start a fundamental initiative that then has to be carried out by the next administration…Moreover, there is no great demand for it in the Arab world. The demand in the Arab world I see is for protection against Iran.”
Speaking with The Algemeiner earlier this week, Malcolm Hoenlein — the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — said, “There has been a lot of speculation, but no decision [has made by the administration]. I do think the president is focused on his legacy and will use these months after the election to consolidate his legacy, in both domestic and foreign policy. But there is not a lot of time and there may not be a lot of options.”
“We should be careful not to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, but at the same time we have to consider and be ready for any potential action or policy pronouncement, while also working with the incoming administration,” he continued. “The president acknowledged to me a year ago that there wouldn’t be enough time for a Palestinian state during his term, but he wanted to create the ‘predicates,’ and I think that could still be on his agenda. Or he could simply walk away and say the parties are not at a point where serious discussions can take place.”
In a pre-election interview with The Algemeiner last week, senior Trump adviser David Friedman said a Trump administration would not “put its finger on the scale and try to force Israel into a particular outcome, but rather will support Israel in reaching its own conclusion about how to best achieve peace with its neighbors.”
“We trust Israel,” he stated. “We think it is doing an excellent job of balancing its respect for human rights and its security needs in a very difficult neighborhood. Israel is a partner with the US in the global war against terrorism. And we want our partner to be attendant to that task and not distracted by foreign countries telling it what to do. That’s really the overall premise of the policy — to respect Israel as a partner, and not to unduly influence its decisions.”
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner