p Donald Trump met Mahmoud Abbas, in Bethlehem today, a twofer for a President intent, as the national-security adviser, H. R. McMaster, put it last week, on visiting “homelands and holy sites” and expressing “his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians.” Reading prepared remarks, in a Presidential palace outfitted with the trappings of sovereignty, Trump told reporters that he’d work with Abbas on “unlocking the potential of the Palestinian economy.” Naftali Bennett, the Israeli education minister and a settlement advocate, probably spoke for most of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government last November, when he declared that, with Trump’s election, “the era of the Palestinian state is over.” Today, in Bethlehem, it was prolonged.

(As a Palestinian friend told me, Abbas is in his twelfth year of a four-year term.)

officials have managed the flow of aid to monopolistic enterprises that provide perks and inflated salaries to friends and family— including Abbas’s son.

Abbas has also appeared powerless to prevent new Israeli settlements, military aggression, and the siege on Gaza.

According to Khalil Shikaki, the director of Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas, leads Abbas in Presidential polls forty-nine per cent to forty-four.

The Islamist group rarely polls above thirty per cent in parliamentary elections, while Fatah polls above forty.

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