ANALYSIS: Israel Has a Friend In the White House

YERUSHALAYIM -
President Donald Trump (R) laughs with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, February 15. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

After years in which Israel was forced to navigate between the desires and aspirations of the White House on the one hand and its national interest on the other, a new page was opened in the bilateral relationship on Wednesday.

It was expressed throughout the day: in the warm reception accorded by Trump and his family to Mr and Mrs Netanyahu, in the remarks made at the joint press conference, and in the open, positive atmosphere in their meeting afterwards.

It can now be told: When Netanyahu and his delegation arrived in Washington they were concerned. No one knew for sure what President Trump would actually say, or what the outcome of the summit would be.

B’chasdei Shamayim, it turned out much better than expected. Basically, Netanyahu received everything he asked for. Trump put an end to the American insistence on the two-state solution, and said instead that if the Israelis and Palestinians can make peace on the basis of two states, he’s for it; and if they want a one-state solution, he’s for it.

The warm and friendly reception for the Israeli delegation — which included Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, who had been persona non grata in the Obama administration — could not have taken place over the last eight years, indicating that something had changed.

All those who had cast doubts on the intentions of President Trump toward Israel in recent days were left dumbfounded by what they heard and saw. Almost every other sentence contained some reference to the ill-treatment Israel has suffered at the hands of the previous administration, the United Nations, the Democratic Party candidate who ran against him, and the rest of the world.

“The Jewish people have suffered enough, they deserve some peace and tranquility,” Trump said, adding that the Palestinians will have to accept the fact of the existence of the state of Israel of the Jewish people.

Trump’s stipulation that the Israelis will also have to show flexibility and be willing to compromise does not detract in the slightest from everything he said before and after. It is true of all negotiations. But no condemnations of construction in Yehudah and Shomron were heard from the president. It is an issue that he will gladly leave to Israel and the Palestinians to settle between themselves.

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu also see eye to eye regarding Iran. The president noted that he had already ordered an increase in sanctions on Iran since taking office. Furthermore, he said, “I will do more to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon.”

Trump pledged to fight the surge of anti-Semitism in the U.S. with all his might.

Obama spoke about the Jews and to the Jews. From Trump, the Palestinians heard sharp criticism. They must put an end to the teaching of hatred and incitement against Jews in their schools and media. And if that disappointed the Palestinians, the deliberate omission of any mention of a Palestinian state was a much bigger blow. They no longer have a friend in the White House who seeks to conciliate the Muslims. They suffered a total defeat.

In the talks that followed the press conference, President Trump expressed a real desire for peace in the Mideast — a kind of peace that will not harm the security of Israel. True, it will have to pay a price; it will not be able to remain in all of the land it now controls. But any withdrawal will be only in those areas where it will not affect its security. That means that all security provisions west of the Jordan will be in Israeli hands.

It became clear on Wednesday that Israel now has a close friend in the White House, and that on many important issues the two leaders share the same views.