Jews Head US Talks with Syria

The Obama Mideast steamroller returns to Damascus this week as Syria and Iran affirmed backing for PA “resistance.” Arabs fear Obama soft on Iran.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

Obama and Assad (collage)
Obama and Assad (collage)
Israel News Photo

President Obama is sending two Jewish advisers to Damascus this week for the second time in two months as his administration’s diplomatic steamroller continues to plow through Middle East political minefields.

Syrian President Bashar Assad is basking in the attention he is receiving as being a potential partner in peace talks but has made it clear he will not do so at price of breaking with Iran, although that is exactly what the United States wants him to do.

While State Department Middle East official Jeffrey Feltman and National Security Council Senior Director Daniel Shapiro were en route to Syria, Assad hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both leaders made it clear that they back Palestinian Authority “resistance,” a code word for terrorism against Israel. “We see that the resistance will continue until all occupied territories are liberated,” they announced.
We see that the resistance will continue until all occupied territories are liberated.

The State Department explained that Feltman and Shapiro, both of whom are Jewish, are traveling to “further advance the U.S. commitment to direct diplomacy with Syria and continue discussions” from a previous trip in March.

The U.S. officially has put Syria on its diplomatic blacklist since the suspected Syrian participation in the assassination in 2005 of former Lebanese Prime Minster Rafiq Hariri, who was against Syrian domination of Lebanon.

President Obama has made a clear break from the Bush administration policy as he takes advantage of an increasingly influential dovish Jewish lobby, spearheaded by the J Street lobby that calls itself Pro-Israel and is trying to replace the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as the most influential Israel lobby.

He has stacked his staff with several Jews who backed the Oslo Accord and talks between Israel and Yasser Arafat before they literally blew up in September, 2000 with the resumption of suicide bombings and thousands of rocket and mortar shelling attacks on Israel.

However, the Arab world, and not the Israeli government, has been most vocal about doubts concerning the American strategy towards Iran, which has spotlighted its ties with Syria.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Monday, "Iran's behavior in the region is negative in many aspects and does not help in advancing security, stability and peace.” The Associated Press quoted Arab diplomats as expressing concerns that President Obama is being too soft on Iran, whose aim for Islamic dominancy threatens the Arab world.

The Obama administration has assured Arab leaders it is not working on a master plan for Middle East peace that would be produced at this expense, but Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair told PA media Tuesday that the Quartet is working on a new strategy for talks between Israel and the PA.

Officials in the Obama administration have begun directly stating that halting the Iranian nuclear threat is directly linked to progress towards establishing a new PA state on the land of Judea, Gaza and Samaria.



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