Trump’s “Ultimate Deal” Only offers Hard Choices for Abbas

The long wait appears to be coming to an end on Donald Trump’s “ultimate deal”, one supposedly capable of unlocking the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States peace initiative may be unveiled as soon as January, marking the first anniversary of Mr Trump’s arrival in office. Other reports suggest it may be delayed until March. But all seem sure it will be upon us soon.

Neither Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, appear keen to enter another round of fruitless dialogue.

But for good reason, Mr Abbas is far more reticent.

This month, in statements presumably directed at Washington, he insisted he would not agree to a Palestinian state without Gaza, or one restricted to Gaza. He also warned again that, in the absence of a two-state solution, Israel would face demands from Palestinians for equal rights in one state.

That was presumably the context for Mr Abbas being called to Riyadh earlier this month, doubtless after the White House urged Saudi Arabia to use its leverage with the Palestinian leader to bring him onside. According to Palestinian sources cited by Israeli reporter Ben Caspit, Mr Abbas was told in no uncertain terms that he had to respond positively to the coming peace initiative.

Strong-arming Mr Abbas was doubtless also the motive behind US threats at the weekend to shut down what is effectively the Palestinians’ embassy in Washington – unless the Palestinian leader…

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