Thursday, February 2, 2017

The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump - More than a Symbol - Ariel Bolstein

by Ariel Bolstein

The meeting between Netanyahu and Trump will put a lock on the past eight years and usher in a new chapter in the history of our region.

The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned for Feb. 15 not only cements the alliance between the two countries, but heralds an upgrade to it, especially given the coolness of the past few years. 

The order in which the new president conducts phone conversations after he is sworn in, as of course the order of his diplomatic meetings, is not random and hints at the administration's priorities. Most of the world's capitals are intently following Trump's schedule of meetings, and want to know who will be invited to Washington first and who will be left at the back of the line. For Trump to set a meeting with Netanyahu so quickly after taking office carries symbolic meaning for both Israel and its leader, and emphasizes that Israel is the superpower's most important ally. 

But the real importance of the meeting is beyond the symbolic. A major part of Trump's campaign rested on rejecting former President Barack Obama's attitude toward the Jewish state. Even before taking office, Trump tried to torpedo Obama's move to condemn Israel in the U.N. Security Council, which he saw as illegitimate. When that did not succeed, Trump promised that when he took office, things would turn around, and Israel would not need to worry about being betrayed by its greatest friend. 

Now it's time for him to make good on his promise, and as we've seen with other issues, the new American president excels at keeping his promises. 

It should be noted that even under a less supportive president like Obama, Israel-U.S. ties grew stronger, especially in a number of fields less directly affected by presidential influence. A vast majority of those in Congress see Israel as a key, irreplaceable ally and a partner in the values of freedom. The American defense establishment sees us similarly. Now the top of the pyramid is joining them, and he is not hampered by ideological blindness. He clearly sees who the Middle East good guys and bad guys are. 

Obama wanted to be remembered as a peacemaker, but he will be remembered as someone who failed utterly in the Middle East arena. The meeting between Netanyahu and Trump will put a lock on the past eight years and usher in a new chapter in the history of our region. There are plenty of signs showing that our two countries will write that chapter together. The new president does not intend to pressure Israel and demand that it make concessions that will harm and endanger it. The time has come to put pressure on these who really sow murder and put world peace at risk: the various Islamic terrorist organizations, from Hamas to Hezbollah, and dark regimes like the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas and, of course, the evildoers in Tehran. 

On Feb. 15, the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister will sit in the White House and sketch out their policy for the near future. We can guess that after the meeting, new rules will apply. The biggest superpower in the world and its primary ally will take an uncompromising line against anyone who seeks to attack Israel and the free world. What's more, the Americans will no longer see the Jewish hold on Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria as something to be condemned. 

Obama started his presidency with the infamous Cairo speech, in which he tried to extend his hand to the Muslim Brotherhood. Trump is beginning his term by meeting with the prime minister of Israel. What a difference. 

Ariel Bolstein


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