A sure sign of the seismic shift that is taking place in American Middle East policy was indicated in a Washington Post story in which a Trump official will not insist on a “two-state solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, at least at this time. This change in policy will come as a relief to Israeli Prime Minister #Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits President #Donald Trump on February 15.
Netanyahu will find a much more welcoming reception at the White House than he ever did during the Obama years. Barack Obama and his people regarded the State of Israel will barely disguised contempt and Netanyahu himself with open hatred. The antipathy toward the Jewish state, a simultaneous tilt toward Iran, and epic bungling where it concerned Iraq and ISIS has resulted in a Middle East that is in flames, an Iran that will likely become a nuclear-armed rogue stat sooner or later, and a tacit alliance between Israel and the Sunni Arab states which are united in their fear of Iran and of ISIS. Paradoxically, Trump and Netanyahu have a mess to clean up but also have some maneuvering room with which to do so, thanks to eight years of Obama misrule.
Trump and Netanyahu will have to at least pay lip service to a peace with the Palestinians, even though such an outcome is as impossible as it always has been. The Palestinians regard a “two-state solution” as a step toward their ultimate goal of a Middle East that is Judenrein, to use the old Nazi-era term for “Jew-free.” But they need to be at least seen as trying to soothe the sensibilities of countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E. who are emotionally invested in a Palestinian state.
The real tasks that the two leaders have to address are the eradication of ISIS, whose monstrous terror state has blighted the Middle East and the prevention of a nuclear Iran. The ultimate goal for the latter country would be regime change, the replacement of the murderous theocracy with something resembling a secular republic that respects human rights (i.e. doesn’t threaten to whip young people to death for making music videos) and does not threaten its neighbors.
Remaking the Middle East will be a tough job. But at least the #United States and Israel are allies again which had not been the case under Obama.