US POLICY CHANGE: IRAN BLOCKING PEACE IN THE MIDEAST

Washington Times on May 22, 2017, reported that President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem that they see new opportunities for peace in the Middle East, based on a strategy of isolating Iran from other Muslim and Arab states in the region. Excerpts below:

At the end of Mr. Trump’s historic first day of meetings in Israel and visits to holy sites, the president said he’s optimistic about “a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace” to the region. But he told Israelis that the price of gaining Arab cooperation in defeating the broader threat of Islamist terrorism must be to reach a long-elusive peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“We must take advantage of the situation,” Mr. Trump said. “There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran.”

“I want you to know how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East,” Netanyahu told Mr. Trump. “Common dangers are turning former enemies into partners. That’s where we see something new and potentially something very promising.”

Mr. Trump also became the first sitting U.S. president to pray at the Western Wall…one of the holiest sites in Judaism. Wearing a yarmulke, he placed his right hand on the ancient stone wall, prayed and placed a small paper prayer note in a crevice, as is tradition.

He said later that he was “deeply moved” by the experience.

Mr. Trump arrived in Tel Aviv aboard Air Force One on what is believed to be the first direct flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Israel, which do not have diplomatic relations.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said Mr. Trump has an opportunity to succeed where other presidents have failed.

“We have the opportunity to advance the peace discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters. “I think the president has indicated he’s willing to put his own personal efforts into this if the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership are ready to be serious about engaging, as well.”

He allegedly identified the Middle Eastern city where the report originated, which pointed to Israel as the source of the intelligence.

The bonding between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Trump, who held their initial meeting at the White House in February, seemed to deepen…around their mutual contempt for Iran and for the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Tehran in 2015. The Israeli leader praised Mr. Trump for expressing deep skepticism about the deal and for encouraging Arab states in the region to confront Tehran’s support of Islamist terrorism.

“I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran,” Mr. Netanyahu told the president. “I believe that together we can roll back Iran’s march of aggression and terror in this region and we can thwart Iran’s unbridled ambition to become a nuclear-weapons state.”

[The American president} said the goal of the U.S., Israel and Arab allies is to face “the threat of an Iranian regime that is causing so much violence and suffering.

Mr. Trump said Iran should be “grateful” to the U.S. for a nuclear deal that gave it a “lifeline.”

“We not only gave them a lifeline, we gave them wealth and prosperity. We also gave them an ability to continue with terror,” Mr. Trump said. “Instead of saying thank you to the United States, they now feel emboldened. … it was a terrible, terrible thing for the United States to enter that deal. and believe me, Iran will never have a nuclear weapon that I can tell you.”

He said he is “encouraged” that the Arab leaders he met with last weekend pledged cooperation to confront terrorism “and the hateful ideology that drives it so hard.”

“I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen — one that will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the United States, and greater prosperity to the world,” he told Mr. Netanyahu, thanking him for “working very hard at it.”

“It’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope,” Mr. Trump said.

Comment: From 2008 to 2016 allies and partners of the United States have lost confidence in the United States because Obama was unwilling to take firm action against Islamist terrorism. The new administration in Washington DC, by showing American leadership, has now opened a window of opportunity for defeating Middle East terrorism and extremism and possibly laying the groundwork for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The decision to work toward isolating Teheran is also a sound geopolitical move to oppose one of the main Rimland challengers of the West. Much remains to be done but the days of May 2017 is a hopeful beginning.

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