Trump Thought Peace In The Middle East Would Be Easy, Now He Isn’t Sure

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September; he has said he is 'reluctant' to say there can be peace in the Middle East Getty/Tom Pennington

When he took office, President Donald Trump was convinced that peace Middle East would be easy. Now, seven months into the job, he appears to have realised that ending the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians may be more difficult than he initially though.

After his forthright assertions about his ability to solve the world’s most intractable conflict ("frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years," he said in May) the president said Thursday that he was now more pessimistic about the prospect of peace in the region.

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“I think we have a chance of doing it. I think the Palestinians would like to see it happen. I think the Israelis would like to see it happen. So I think there is a chance that there could be peace. But again, I say that a little bit reluctantly. We're going to give it our best,” he told reporters at the White House.

Early on the president put peace between Israel and the Palestinians at the heart of his foreign policy agenda and a visit to the Middle East was his first after taking office.

Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner, the White House’s point man on the region, concluded a two-day tour of the region at the end of last month, meeting with officials in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, Israel, and Ramallah in the West Bank.

Before his inauguration Trump said if Kushner couldn’t produce peace in the Middle East then “nobody can.”

But Kushner’s trip was not exactly an unmitigated success. He was snubbed by the Egyptian President Abdul Fatah el-Sisi, who would be an indispensable guarantor of any possible peace deal, after the State Department announced it would be withdrawing  $95.7 million in military and economic aid.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Kushner was met with protests mocking the Trump administration and the 38-year-old seemed to make little progress with the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. Following their June meeting with Kusher and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, Palestinian officials told the Israeli press the pair “sounded like Netanyahu's advisers and not like fair arbiters."

For both the president and his son, Middle East peace may continue to be elusive.