To demonstrate that a new chapter is about to be written in US-Israeli relations – a chapter different from the one written by the Barack Obama administration. President Trump might not feel obliged to deliver on all of his promises towards Israel (see his recent remarks on moving the US embassy to Jerusalem), but he does want to signal to Israel and to the world that the days of friction are over. At least for now.
Time and understanding. No surprises, no taking for granted Trump’s support for every move, no taking advantage of the early days of an administration that doesn’t yet know what it is doing. He also wants to know what’s really important for Israel (and why) and what issues can be negotiated.
The list is long, but it begins with something that both leaders want: a signal that the US and Israel are once again on the same page, and a signal that the US intends to go back to a no-daylight policy towards Israel. That is, to coordinate as many moves as possible and prevent a situation in which differences are aired in public. On principle, Trump is going to agree to this. But his character might be an obstacle to implementing it.
Geostrategic matters, starting with Iran. Israel would like to ensure that Iran does not get an opportunity to strengthen its hand further because of America’s lack of interest, commitment, or understanding of the situation. A delicate matter that needs to be discussed between the two leaders is Russia’s involvement in Syria and what it means for the US and Israel’s wish to see Iran contained. Netanyahu would like to present to Trump the opportunity that exists in bolstering the cooperation between Israel and the Sunni Arab states (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan) and the importance of this unofficial makeshift coalition for the containment, or even rolling back, of Iran.
Netanyahu is under no illusion that the agreement will be promptly abandoned by the US. So his hope is to see two possible developments: 1. A more robust policy by the US concerning issues that were not covered by the agreement (Iran’s support for terrorism, Iran’s missile program), 2. An intention to see the agreement extended beyond the 15 year period it currently covers, after which Iran is pretty much free to become a military nuclear power.
The peace process – or the relations with the Palestinians – is not high on Netanyahu’s agenda. But it will surely be discussed. Netanyahu is going to argue that a better approach to this issue is looking at it from a regional perspective – namely, as one of the things that a more robust alliance involving Israel and the Arab states, and supported by the US, can deal with. The Palestinians need Arab support, without which they are not likely to make any significant move towards peace. Israel needs to see a benefit in negotiation beyond being nice to the Palestinians. If the Palestinian issue is one item of a broader Middle East peace agenda, that might work.
On settlements, and President and the Prime Minister can easily agree. If one carefully reads Trump’s language on this issue, one realizes that this President is ready to go back to an arrangement similar to the one agreed on in the Bush-Sharon letter. That is: Israel can build and develop the main settlement blocs, but can’t build new settlements. Such an understanding would benefit Netanyahu in two ways: 1. It will give him something tangible with which to demonstrate to Israelis that he achieved something. 2. It will give him a way of demonstrating that his more adult-like approach to dealing with the settlement issue bears more fruit than the confrontational approach advised by his critics on the right, especially by Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennet. For the president, this could be an easy way to demonstrate that 1. Trump is no Obama (whose administration did not accept that Bush-Sharon understanding as valid) and 2. That he takes a middle-of-the-road, pro-peace, and pro-Israel stance on this issue.
Sure. You might remember that the first Obama-Netanyahu meeting was quite contentious. So for Trump to have a positive first meeting with the Prime Minister is the easiest path to showing that things have indeed changed in US-Israel relations. For Netanyahu, it is essential to have a positive first meeting, as one thing is clear: getting on Trump’s wrong side is not a recommended policy.
This is Donald Trump. Surprises are no longer surprising.
Published in the LA Jewish Journal
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
Feb 02, 2020 0The remarks from the US official came in wake of the Palestinian decision to reject the administration’s peace plan. US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to...
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.