Mideast Political Climate Change - David Lazarus ISRAEL TODAY
Mideast Political Climate Change
Thursday, February 14, 2019 | David Lazarus ISRAEL TODAY
Foreign ministers and officials from 60 countries are in Warsaw, Poland to discuss hostilities across the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In an informal meeting during the conference, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Yousuf bin Abdullah, Oman’s foreign minister. “Many are following the (Omani) lead, and may I say, including at this conference,” Netanyahu told the Omani minister in a video of their meeting released by Netanyahu’s office (see below). Oman does not formally recognize Israel, and though secret talks with Arab nations have been hinted at, permitting a video of the two leaders having an informal discuss to be published is an extraordinary change of policy for any Arab nation.
Speaking to Netanyahu in the video, bin Abdullah said, “People in the Middle East have suffered a lot because they have stuck to the past. Now we say, this is a new era, for the future.” In an earlier sign of Mideast political climate change, Oman had hosted the Israeli prime minster this past October.
A major cause of warming relations is the concern many Gulf States share with Israel regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its support of terrorist groups that continue to instigate regional conflicts. With public support from the US government, Israel sees an opportunity to become part of an Arab alliance to hold back Iranian aggression. The Iranians say it is US-aligned forces in the region, and not they, who are belligerent.
“We’re trying to expand the number of nations who are engaged and have a stake in the future of a peaceful and prosperous Middle East,” Brian Hook, the US State Department’s special representative for Iran, told Reuters. “Arab nations and Israel face a common threat of Iranian regional aggression and Washington was working closely with these nations to counter this. Iran isn’t behaving like a normal country. They have a very expansionist foreign policy and that destabilizes other countries,” Hook said.
Russia, Iran's key ally, declined the invitation to attend the US-lead conference. Iran was not invited. Palestinian officials were invited but also refused to attend. Palestinian leaders view any attempt at normalization between Arab nations and Israel as a betrayal and view the current US administration as having a biased pro-Israel policy.
Just outside the conference venue, hundreds of expatriate Iranians from various European countries demonstrated against Tehran’s regime. Rudy Giuliani, US President Donald Trump’s lawyer, was a special guest at the protests. "There is no better place to talk about freedom than Warsaw," he said, pointing out that Poland had been oppressed by Russia for years.
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