In Washington three months ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas praised US President Donald Trump’s “wisdom,” “courageous stewardship” and “great negotiating ability.” Speaking in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, where he and Trump were addressing the media, Abbas switched from Arabic to English. “Now, Mr. President,” he declared, “with you we have hope.”
Twenty days later, the two men met again, this time in the Presidential Palace in Bethlehem. “Your Excellency,” Abbas told his prominent guest, “meeting you in the White House early this month has given us and our Palestinian people… so much hope and optimism of the possibility to make true a dream, a long-awaited dream and ambition, and that is lasting and justice-based peace.”
But in recent days, the Palestinians’ relationship with the Trump administration, which started off so surprisingly amicably, has soured — largely in the wake of last month’s tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. And Ramallah’s mounting frustration with what it increasingly sees as an American pro-Israel bias — underlined by leaked comments from Trump’s Middle East point man, Jared Kushner, in which he seems sympathetic to Israel’s position — could cripple Trump’s ability to be seen as an honest broker.
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