President Biden’s trip to the Middle East took place against the background of Arab-Israeli disenchantment with the Obama White House, the Netanyahu-Trump relationship, the uncertain future of the Iran nuclear deal, the far-reaching consequences of the war in Ukraine, the strategic competition with China and Russia, and his plummeting approval rates at home.
On April 29, 2018, Mike Pompeo made his first visit to Israel as Secretary of State. This is how Prime Minister Netanyahu started off their joint press conference:
“Secretary Pompeo, it’s wonderful to welcome you.
“This is your first visit to Israel as Secretary of State. I think it’s significant that you chose, as did the President, to include Israel on this important itinerary. I think it’s symbolic of our friendship, which is deep and getting even deeper and stronger.
With the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire taking hold last Friday, the 11-day Gaza conflict is hopefully over.
By and large, this latest episode also conformed to the pattern of Gaza confrontations. There were clashes at Jerusalem’s holy sites; Israel reacted with force to Hamas rockets; Gaza suffered devastation; divided Palestinian leadership called for an end to subjugation and occupation; UN Secretary General and some countries urged de-escalation; Arab governments expressed indignation; and a senior US diplomat traveled to the region to help achieve a cease-fire.
In my last post I tried to highlight the roller-coaster pattern of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
In his New York Times article of May 14, titled “Arab World Condemns Israeli Violence but Takes Little Action”, Eric Erlanger started off with the following:
“The Arab world is unified in condemning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and the way the Israeli police invaded Jerusalem’s Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Governments have spoken out, protests have taken place, social media is aflame.
“But by and large the condemnation is only words, not actions — at least so far.”
Palestinians remain more than frustrated with the status quo and in the absence of any progress towards the two-state solution their discontent usually hits the surface in the form of some violence. And whenever there is violence, Israel says that it will not tolerate incitement, terrorism and reacts with disproportional force; Palestinian leadership calls for an end to subjugation and occupation; UN Secretary General urges calm; Arab governments express indignation; they remember the Arab League; the Quartet issues a statement advising restraint; the EU expresses concern: finally, either the US Secretary of State or some other high official travels to the region to find a way out because such violence always puts Washington on the spot by virtue of its unique relationship with Israel. And a roller-coaster pattern of violence goes on.
Despite his heavy domestic agenda President Biden has been calling foreign leaders.
Last Thursday, in a Jerusalem Post article titled, “What signals is Biden sending about his Middle East policy?”, Herb Keinon took a look at why the 46th President of the United States still has not called PM Netanyahu.[i]
As I read the article I thought, “that makes the two of us.”
Last week, I watched President Trump’s and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s White House remarks on television. I also read the transcript[i]. President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke for 47 minutes. During those 47 minutes there were 71 applause, most of them standing. There were no Palestinian leaders present. Even the Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz was not visible. It was all about President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu and their being family. Okumaya devam et →
President Trump has called his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “recognition of the reality”.
His National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking to ABC’s “This Week” on May 13 said, “If you’re not prepared to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that’s where the American Embassy should be, then you’re operating on a completely different wavelength. Recognizing reality always enhances the chances for peace.”
If recognizing the reality indeed enhances the prospects of peace, then what about the reality of:
Turkish Cypriots having a state of their own for decades;
South Ossetia and Abkhazia being independent states; and,
Crimea being a part of Russia?
At the inauguration ceremony of the new embassy PM Netanyahu said, “Remember this moment, this is history. President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history… The Israeli people thank you for keeping your word, for your courage, for your determination, and for your firm, unwavering stand alongside the State of Israel.”
June 27, 2016
Prime Ministers Yıldırım and Netanyahu personally announced to the world that Turkey and Israel have decided to restore diplomatic relations. This is concrete evidence that even for the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) “precious loneliness” was no longer sustainable. To a certain extent the same goes for Israel, increasingly at odds with the US and the EU over the Palestinian issue. It seems that economic considerations, particularly prospects of cooperation in the energy sector have also played their part. Regardless, Turkish-Israeli reconciliation is a positive development not only for the two countries but also the Middle East in turmoil. During his press conference, PM Yıldırım avoided bravado; he was not triumphant and this too is welcome change.
First, a brief look at what happened six years ago: Okumaya devam et →
Israeli-Palestinian talks sponsored by the US collapsed in April 2014. On July 8, Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza in response to rocket attacks by Hamas. 2,143 Palestinians and 71 Israelis lost their lives with 11,000 wounded. There was great devastation. Almost 100,000 people were left homeless. Israeli authorities and UN officials could not agree on the number of civilian casualties in Gaza. Following the declaration of a ceasefire on August 26, Hamas declared victory and PM Netanyahu stated that Israel had achieved her objectives. The understanding was that talks on substantive issues would start in a month in Cairo. They did and got nowhere. A new wave of Palestinian violence started, this time in the form of stabbings. Yesterday, four Israelis were killed and three injured in a central Tel Aviv shooting terror attack. In response Israel sent more troops to the West Bank and froze 83,000 permits for Palestinians to enter Israel. These had been issued as a goodwill gesture to allow greater freedom of movement for Palestinians during Ramadan. Okumaya devam et →