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President Trump departs Israel with peace in mind, but details are scarce

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Donald Trump
Donald Trump

President Trump with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Just to make sure there wasn’t a shed of doubt in your mind, President Trump made it exceedingly clear: He wants a deal. “I intend to do everything I can,” he said on Tuesday.

The President officially departed after a 28-hour stay in Israel, which included a visit to the West Wall, and meetings the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

“President Abbas assures me he is ready to work toward that goal in good faith,” Trump said in Bethlehem, standing alongside Abbas. “And Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised the same.”

What President Trump failed to do was reveal the slightest hint of what, if anything, was behind it: He applied the most minimal amount of pressure on either of the leaders. Gone were the usual talks and comments of borders, settlements, of incitement of terrorism or of the long and gnarled history of two peoples on the same land. He did not once speak on or acknowledge his campaign promise of moving the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

Nor was there a process for what comes next.

“This is a visit that has no substance,” said Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster and political analyst.

Donald Trump

Trump and his wife, Melania, laid a wreath on Tuesday at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

 

That does not mean, others have been quick to point out, the trip, Trump’s first abroad as U.S. president, was not useful in the building of bridges, in perhaps re-setting or setting a different tone, in showing Israelis full support and Palestinians respect. Trump made it crystal clear the new relationship Israel seeks with its Sunni neighbors, some of whom he had met with in Saudi Arabia before touching down in Israel, can be linked to progress with Palestine.

Most experts have agreed Trump succeeded in such tasks, with few of the missteps that have dogged him at home.

Netanyahu, pressed by conservatives in his coalition, got much of what he wanted in a speech delivered Tuesday by Trump at the Israel Museum that adopted much of the prime minister’s own worldview — the image of a democratic Israel defending itself against enemies such as Iran.

“Through it all, they have endured and, in fact, they have thrived,” Trump said. “I stand in awe of the accomplishments of the Jewish people, and I make this promise to you: My administration will always stand with Israel.”

These words delivered were followed immediately by a standing ovation, and a handshake from Netanyahu.

Trump went on to note that Iran has committed itself to Israel’s destruction.

“Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me,” he said, vehemently, to the crowd’s delight. “Thank you,” Trump said, adding, “I like you, too.”

While the trip was focused almost completely on Israel, Abbas, struggling to maintain sway after years in power, got at least some of what he wanted as he hosted Trump in Bethlehem as a seeming equal. His trip and hourlong meeting with Abbas had all the pomp and circumstance of an official state visit — a quickly corrected schedule posted by the White House even referred to “Palestine,” which many Israelis object to as a recognition of a Palestinian state.

Abbas, who met with Mr. Trump this month in Washington, repeated “our commitment to cooperate with you in order to make peace and forge a historic peace deal.”

In the byzantine world of Middle East peacemaking, the White House’s approach, appearing to lack the clarity of meetings past, may be a good thing at this stage. Trump’s advisers say that instead of pressuring and dictating, the way former Secretary of State John Kerry did during past failed peace efforts, ambiguity leaves them room to maneuver.

However, in their meetings, neither of Trump’s partners moved even an inch from their long-held positions and used their American guest in separate meetings to lash out at each other.

Isaac Herzog, the opposition leader and the head of Israel’s Labor Party, said that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser on the Middle East, had told him that the United States intended to follow up quickly with a process moving toward an agreement. Israeli and Palestinian officials were mum about private talks.

“Is anything behind all of this? That, only the prime minister knows,” said Mitchell Barak, an Israeli pollster and former political adviser. “This is probably the way he did business. From what I can see, he goes into a meeting, he puts on a show. He’s the Liberace of world leaders,” he added of Trump.

Decades of American-led peacemaking has resulted in little when it comes to a deal with the Palestinians. But there is precedent for strict secrecy in the early stages, if that is what is happening.

Israeli and Palestine Liberation Organization officials met in secret in hotel rooms and country estates and came up with the principles that led to the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, with the Norwegians acting as a conduit. The United States were not active in these talks. The Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty signed in 1994 was also the culmination of decades of secret bilateral contacts.

“A good visit,” said Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and a historian. “Now we will see how we will build on it.”

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FTX’s Nishad Singh got $543 million loan

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More fallout from the FTX cryptocurrency platform collapse. Court documents show its affiliate Alameda Research loaned executives like Sam Bankman Fried $1 billion and more than $500 million to Indian American Nishad Singh, FTX’s top engineer. FTX’s interim CEO says never in his career has he seen such complete failure of corporate controls and a complete absence of trustworthy financial information. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after it was unable to come up with customer funds.

Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison after her conviction in January for defrauding investors while running the failed blood testing start up Theranos.In her trial, Holmes alleged she was in the midst of a decade-long abusive relationship with her then-boyfriend and Theranos COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. The Indian American was also found guilty for his role in this fraud and will be sentenced later.

Starting next month, India will assume the G20 presidency for a year and chair more than 200 meetings, leading the way for global economic growth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country’s leadership here will be inclusive, ambitious, and decisive.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Arvind Venkat & Tarik Khan win Pennsylvania State seats

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WASHINGTON D.C. (Diya TV) – Looking back at the midterm elections, Arvind Venkat and Tarik Khan made history as the first South Asian Americans elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Advocacy group Indian American Impact played a major role on the ground, saying it trained and mobilized 200 volunteers to go door-to-door, to engage voters and provide info they needed to elect new leadership.

After 35 years, the Nancy Pelosi era is officially coming to an end. The speaker from San Francisco announced she’s bowing out of leadership, but will retain her House seat. The midterms cost Pelosi’s Democratic party the House and effectively ended her speakership.

Two former Indian American executives at Meta Platforms will launch a new non fungible token start up for creators. Kirthiga Reddy and Saurabh Doshi have raised more than $8 million for their new company called Virtualness. But they are facing headwinds as the FTX cryptocurrency exchange collapse is putting pressure on the entire industry.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Meet FTX insider Nishad Singh

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The controversy around failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX continues to captivate the world. Part of the scrutiny is now on the people involved, including Indian American Nishad Singh. According to new reports, this techie was part of FTX’s inner circle, which lived together and ran the cryptocurrency empire from the Bahamas. The software engineer was also reportedly aware that FTX secretly transferred customer funds worth billions of dollars to its sister firm Alameda Research. Currently, no one is facing any criminal charges. Diya TV featured Singh more than a decade ago for running ultra marathons as a 17 year old getting ready for college. 

Former President Donald Trump has officially announced he is running for president in 2024, marking his third bid for the White House. Trump had been hinting at this announcement for months, as the embattled former president faces multiple criminal and civil litigations and as his party is grappling with a worse than expected showing in the midterm elections. 

At the G20 Summit in Bali, world leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden are coming together to condemn the rising threat of nuclear weapons as Russia’s war against Ukraine continues to raise tension and anxiety around the world.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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