What exactly did the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk away with from his official visit to see Donald Trump in Washington? According to press reports, America's own U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley says that the talks have merely reinforced a two-state solution.
Although the spotlight thrown on Gaza of late has also illuminated divisions deep within Israel's own political apparatus with the country's president calling for one state and citizenship for Palestinians. Workable? Much would depend on Palestinians supporting such an idea and the setting for them to mull it over.
But the contradictions don't end there.
Trump's statement that the U.S. would no longer insist on an independent Palestinian state as part of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians contradicts both Netanyahu's views and a decades-old American approach to the problem, Mustafa Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, told RT.
"I know that Mr. Netanyahu has a different plan; the Israeli prime minister wants to establish a system of discrimination and racist apartheid against Palestinians as a substitute for the two-state solution," Barghouti said.
Some may argue with constant reports emanating from the Israeli media that a new Gaza assault is beginning that little can be expected from Palestinians themselves and that their endorsement of any plans is irrelevant; others might even go further and argue that Trump neither understands nor cares about either blueprint and has other ideas about Gaza and the West Bank.
Trump's closest aides, like Steven Bannon, might be forgiven for thinking that perhaps Trump is confused and is relying more on the Israeli leader for tutelage. Could it be that Netanyahu was given a green light to go ahead with any of his military gambits after he and Trump have agreed on some red lines?
Israel and regional issues
It appears that a military campaign between Israel and Lebanon is heating up - and in recent weeks has accelerated dramatically. It's not the huge mounds of earth that have been created by the Israeli Defense Forces on the border or even the concrete barricades that have been put in place in recent weeks to hinder tanks and armored personnel carriers from easily crossing into northern Israel.
It's more about the bigger stuff. Nukes and ammonia, in fact.
The Lebanese Shiite leader has spoken out about Israel's own nuclear facilities and how, ironically, they are presenting the region with a tangible threat to stability more than the possible, longer term one of Iran possibly building one. "For Israel, the political circumstances to wage a war against Lebanon are always there, due to an Arab cover that let Israel attack Lebanon in 2006, and these circumstances are stronger now," he said. "The nuclear power in Israel threatens the whole region and we are turning it to a threat on Israel itself," he adds.And then the Hezbollah leader issues what many western media outlets consider to be an outright threat to hitting Israel's nuclear plant, in the event of an attack by Israel.
"I urge the Israeli enemy to dismantle the nuclear Dimona center, because they know what would happen to them if the rockets hit that reactor."
Fiery, yet calculating talk from a man who doesn't have a reputation for empty threats. But in reality is a war brewing? Not according to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. He believes that the buildup of the border blockades against tanks and other military initiatives are more a ploy of weakness and fear of a Hezbollah attack rather than preparations for an offensive: "Since the enemy occupied Palestine, there's only barbed wire between us and the occupied lands, and this is the first time that the enemy is building walls and putting out plans to defend the colonies," he says.
In particular he cites the Israelis recently emptying their own stocks of ammonia from tanks in Haifa.
"Some thought that emptying a Haifa ammonia gas tank is a signal for a war against Lebanon, but I tell them it's a signal for Israel's fear of the resistance in Lebanon...as for the Israeli talk about a new war against Lebanon, we've been hearing that since the war of July 2006, and nothing happened. If your generals and soldiers came to southern Lebanon, what would happen to them?" he asked calmly.
On Gaza talks he is just as clear, but skeptical. The Hezbollah leader believes that the "Trump-Netanyahu meeting signals the death of the negotiations path for Israel and Palestinians" and that there "must be an Israeli goal to the extreme and constant pressure on Lebanese people."
"The Israeli project for Palestine is: Take Gaza and it will stay sieged, but the rest of Palestine is for the Zionists. It's only natural that the Israelis are getting to a point where they're saying that we are getting to the final stages of 'killing' the Palestinian cause. No one can kill or end the Palestinian cause though."
Even on the notion of Trump giving Netanyahu the green light for attacking Lebanon, the Hezbollah leader is dubious. "Even if Trump allowed Netanyahu to wage a war against Lebanon, or he encouraged him to, is that final decision up to America?"
* Martin Jay recently won the U.N.'s prestigious Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize (UNCA) in New York, for his journalism work in the Middle East. He is based in Beirut.
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