ANALYSIS: Three historic events for Israel in one week

Three triumphs for Israel - and Netanyahu - mark a historic week for the Jewish state, and one key defeat for the Palestinian Authority.

Yochanan Visser,

Donald Trump and Binyamin Netanyahu meet in White House
Donald Trump and Binyamin Netanyahu meet in White House
Reuters

This has been a truly historic week for Israel, and not only because of the roll-out of the revolutionary American plan to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict.

While critics of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were preparing for a spectacle around a Knesset Committee hearing on his request for parliamentary immunity, things went off course, so to speak.

It was not only the stunning revelation of President Donald J. Trump’s peace initiative that made this week a historical one.

Of course, it was no small feature to turn the tables in the approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict as Trump effectively did with his plan.

The fact of the matter is that now for the first time in the history of the peace process, the ball is in the Palestinian court, while Israel has already gotten the concessions it sought and even more.

The Trump plan reflects in every aspect Netanyahu’s view on the future of the State of Israel and the solution to the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs.

Some may argue that the world community – and the European Union in particular - still clings to the old approach (two states for two peoples based on the 1948 armistice lines) but the change in American policy toward the conflict is a major victory for Netanyahu and Israel.

As a result, the Palestinian leadership shows signs of desperation as became apparent when it started to curse the American President. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas even called Trump “a dog and the son of a dog” and refused to talk to the US President over the telephone.

Abbas now wants to enlist the UN Security Council for his effort to sabotage the Trump plan but he most likely will see his Tunisian sponsored resolution against the plan torpedoed by the US and Great Britain that indicated it will support the plan for now.

The PA leader faces harsh criticism at home where almost nobody takes him seriously anymore after he appeared to be unable to make decisions and continued to make empty threats while failing to mobilize the Palestinian street.

Abbas also appears to be facing another important revolutionary change following the revelation of Trump’s plan.

His natural allies the Arab states, and the Gulf States and Egypt in particular, have reacted quite positively to what Abbas uses to call “the slap of the century,” and appear to distance themselves from the Palestinian leadership.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that called upon both sides “to carefully consider the US vision to achieve peace…and to open channels for dialogue to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis where they can discuss their visions under US patronage to reach a comprehensive and fair peace agreement that meets the aspirations and hopes of the two peoples and leads to an independent Palestinian state.”

So, Egypt doesn’t support the Palestinian Authority's position of rejection of the plan out of hand, and also takes into account the aspirations and hopes of the Israeli people, while endorsing the US as a broker.

Saudi Arabia, too, was very careful not to torpedo Trump’s plan right away, as has been the case with previous peace plans.

A statement by the Saudi Foreign Ministry welcomed the Trump plan and also endorsed the US as a broker in the attempt to solve the conflict for once and all.

“The kingdom encourages the start of direct peace negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, under the auspices of the United States, and to resolve any disagreements with aspects of the plan through negotiations, in order to move forward the peace process to reach an agreement that achieves legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” the statement read.

The other Gulf States even let their ambassadors in the US attend the event in the White House.

Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates who was present in the White House said “the peace plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”

Kuwait also responded positively to the revelation of Trump’s peace plan, and said in a statement that it “highly appreciates” the vision.

“Acceptance (of the plan) by the parties is fundamental to the implementation and sustainability of the plan,” according to the Gulf State, which also made clear it still thinks a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs should be based on the pre-1967 armistice lines.

It is this new attitude by these Arab states that made the roll-out of Trump’s new plan truly historical, as Netanyahu said before he went to Washington DC.

Then there were the stunning developments in the relationship between Israel and Russia this week.

After making an impressive visit to Israel last week where he attended the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz dead-camp and briefly spoke with Yaffa Issachar the mother of the 26-year-old Israeli woman Na’ama Issachar about releasing her from a Russian prison where she served a 7.5-year sentence for possessing 9.5 grams of marijuana Putin again showed he has a soft spot for Israel.

“Everything will be alright,” Putin said after meeting Yaffa Issachar in Jerusalem and he kept word.

As soon as he was back in Russia the former KGB chief acted upon his promise to Yaffa and started the official procedure for pardoning Na’ama.

On Wednesday the Kremlin announced Putin had signed a decree ordering the release of Na’ama after which Netanyahu decided to fly back from the US via Moscow where he would meet Putin again.

The Russian President said after the meeting with Netanyahu that it was Yaffa Issachar who caused him to consider pardoning her daughter.

“Much is thanks to meeting her mother. The order was signed, she’s lucky the drugs were in the baggage. Remember that drugs were found in her bag but I wish her good luck. I wish all the best for Na’ama and her family,” Putin said on Thursday after news broke Na’ama was free to travel to Israel with Netanyahu.

The Russian leader, who has the reputation of being emotionless, also did something else that again showed he has affectionate feelings for Israel and Israelis.

He gave Sara Netanyahu a huge bouquet of flowers and kissed her on the cheek.

As we reported earlier Putin’s affection for Jews reportedly dates back to his early youth when his Jewish neighbors gave him food and clothes when they saw his parent couldn’t afford it.

However, the Russian leader only started to do favors to Israel since his army invaded Syria thereby breaking a long-standing tradition of strained relations between Israel and Russia.

The credit for this radical change in Russian Israeli relations must be given to PM Netanyahu who tirelessly worked to build a special relationship with Putin.

So in just one week time, Israel witnessed three historical changes in attitudes toward the Jewish state with major repercussions.



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