FOR TWO DAYS and two nights in December, the Israelis and their American friends in Washington, D.C., convened among the carolers and Christmas trees at a luxury hotel near the White House. It was supposed to be Haim Saban’s political bar mitzvah, the ultimate celebration of his president-making powers. In 2016, the billionaire emerged as the most influential Israel donor to Hillary Clinton, and most of the Israeli-American policy world turned out for his 13th annual Saban Forum: think tank policy wonks, ribbon-decked retired generals and diplomats who had sweated over the intractable peace process. Knesset members on the right and left flew in from Tel Aviv, along with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a hard-liner sometimes described as a potential challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, who beamed in by satellite.
But instead of toasting Saban’s candidate or getting their pictures taken with the president-elect, the participants could only guess at what Donald Trump who wasn’t invited might do in the Holy Land.
The Queens, New York-born real estate mogul will be inaugurated at what is now a pivotal moment in Israel, when the American-backed idea of a two-state solution that is, dividing land between the Israelis and Palestinians