Friday, February 15, 2019

The News from Warsaw

Maybe it’s an important step. Maybe it isn’t. Certainly, it lacks the drama, the sound and the fury that envelops every step the Trump administration takes.

While Congressional Democrats are up in arms to defend people who are in the country illegally and while the New York media is awash in stories about how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drove Amazon out of the city, thus costing it thousands of jobs and gobs of tax revenue, an American delegation in Warsaw, Poland is working quietly to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East.

If a Democratic administration had been doing this, it would be huge news. Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal is reporting the story.

The administration has signaled the importance of the conference by sending Secretary of State Pompeo and Vice president Pence. Yet, when it comes to Middle Eastern peace, the  point man is presidential son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. No one in the media takes him very seriously, so you can assume that he’s an important and competent player. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley called him “a hidden genius that no one understands.” She did not have to say it, so we will grant her words some credence.

As for the news from Warsaw, the Journal begins its report thusly:

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, said that a show of unity among Israeli and Arab officials at a U.S.-backed conference here made him feel “optimistic” about prospects for peace in the Middle East, according to officials who witnessed the presentation behind closed doors on Thursday.

Since the Palestinian Authority and its masters in Tehran were not present, Kushner worked to establish something of a working alliance between Israel and the Gulf Arab states. We note that Israeli prime minister Netanyahu attended the meeting along side representatives of the Arab states:

Mr. Kushner, in his closed-door presentation, focused his appeal for support of his peace efforts on the same group—Israel and the Gulf Arab countries—with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu present in the meeting room.

Mr. Netanyahu congratulated Mr. Kushner in response to the presentation during the session, and for being “crazy enough” to “come up with ideas.”

The “normalization” of relations with the Arab world would help, Mr. Netanyahu continued, adding, “I am happy to say there is progress on that.”

One senior Saudi minister spoke favorably of the Kushner plan:

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, echoed his assent and offered assistance for Mr. Kushner’s plan. “We strongly believe it’s time to find a solution to this long-running conflict,” Mr. Jubeir told the session, officials said.

Mr. Netanyahu’s meeting with senior Arab officials a day earlier was the first such appearance by an Israeli premier in more than two decades.

“We want this to be collaborative,” Mr. Kushner told participants, according to the officials present, who also said he praised Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel for their cooperation.

Significantly, Dennis Ross, a longtime veteran of similar negotiations, expressed guarded optimism:

Dennis Ross, a veteran U.S. diplomat with expertise in the Middle East who chaired a panel at the conference, said he was hopeful after the direct interaction between Israel and Arab countries in Warsaw. “There were actual exchanges. That was new and different,” Mr. Ross said.

Another Saudi official tried to tamp down enthusiasm:

“From the Israeli point of view, Mr. Netanyahu would like us to have a relationship, and then we can fix the Palestinian issue,” former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 that aired Wednesday. “From the Saudi point of view, it’s the other way around.”

Mr. Pompeo, however, said the common threat of Iran has brought the two countries closer together.

“It’s undeniable that Iran’s aggression in the region has brought Israel and Arab states closer together,” he said in closing remarks. “What I think was even more remarkable is that it didn’t feel all that historic. It felt right, it felt normal, because we were working on a common problem.”

It is not very dramatic, but the fact that it felt right and normal surely counts for something. And it comes at a time when the Democratic Party is becoming seriously anti-Semitic. Something else to consider.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

Good news! (NOte to media: SUPPRESS AT ALL COSTS! Repeat, ALL COSTS.)