On Monday I spoke to Aaron Maté of The Real News about Donald Trump’s first overseas visit as US president.
Watch the video above.
Trump spent two days in Saudi Arabia, where he announced massive weapons deals with an absolute monarchy that has been leading a devastating US-backed bombing campaign against Yemen, killing thousands of civilians over the last two years.
Yemen now faces a cholera epidemic that is spreading rapidly out of control.
The announcement of Trump’s initial $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia sent the stocks of weapons makers soaring.
On Monday, Trump flew from Saudi Arabia to Israel. He then visited the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, both in occupied East Jerusalem, and held press conferences with Israeli leaders.
On Tuesday, Trump returned to the occupied West Bank for a cursory meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
In a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump acknowledged what has long been known: that Israel and Saudi Arabia have formed a tacit alliance whose main target is Iran.
The warming ties between Israel and US-aligned Arab regimes has come at the expense of solidarity with Palestinians.
“There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran, and it is indeed a threat, there’s no question about that,” Trump said.
But Israeli officials were reportedly displeased that Trump tied the future of Israel’s relationship with authoritarian Sunni sectarian regimes to progress on making peace with the Palestinians.
According to The New York Times, Netanyahu’s flirtation with the Saudis and other regional governments is aimed at “subordinating the Palestinian dispute as a secondary issue.”
Trump’s comments, the newspaper added, in effect tied “the future of the anti-Iran coalition to the Palestinian issue despite Mr. Netanyahu’s longtime efforts to unlink the two.”
Trump reportedly emphasized in private talks with Israeli leaders that Arab rulers had told him they would take further steps to normalize ties with Israel if the “peace process” makes progress.
Occupation violence unabated
Since his election, Trump has repeatedly declared his desire to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but has done nothing in practice to make that remotely plausible.
Israel continues to seize Palestinian land for Jewish-only colonization and to violently suppress the Palestinian population with no consequences from the United States.
On Monday, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from Bethlehem was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces who claimed he attempted to stab a soldier at a checkpoint in the West Bank. No Israelis were injured.
At least 20 more Palestinians were shot and injured across the West Bank by Israeli forces suppressing demonstrations in support of Palestinian hunger strikers.
Palestinians also observed a general strike on Monday.
Palestinians held protests in the Gaza Strip as well, and one was reportedly shot and injured by Israeli fire across the boundary fence.
As Trump posed for photo opportunities and was scheduled to enjoy dinner at Netanyahu’s official residence on Monday night, more than 1,300 Palestinians were on their 36th day of hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
Dozens, their health sharply deteriorating, have been moved to hospitals and field clinics by Israeli authorities, who continue to reject their demands for basic rights, including family visits, an end to solitary confinement and adequate medical care.