Getting the Russians and the US to sit at the same table with Israel is no small feat, let’s see if it eventually comes to pass…
Both the U.S. and Russia have an interest in continuing to work this while Israel awaits a new election. If Trump and Bolton hang in there, I think Russia will. Israel is a variable in the regional problem that won’t go squishy or wonky, if the potential structure of a viable commitment has been hammered out. Talking to Israel together is a unique opening; regardless of the outcome in September, it wouldn’t be time wasted.
Russia and America have national interests in making this happen, or we wouldn’t be doing it. This is a juncture at which not talking, for rote assumptions’ sake, is the wrong answer. I’m hopeful Trump and Bolton will recognize that.
Wow, the (interesting) timing of the Israeli election do-over
The jokes have been a little sour this week, with the Israeli Knesset dissolving after a tense period in which Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to cobble together a new Likud-led governing coalition following the 9 April election.
Israel, they’re saying – the Middle East’s only functioning democracy – loves democracy so much the Israelis want to have national elections twice a year.
A new election is now to be held on 17 September 2019.
When the news first came out, I must admit I immediately thought this could end up being a net positive. Netanyahu and Likud supporters are upset, of course, and understandably so. Bibi can perform necessary functions of government, such as national defense, between now and the next election. But there won’t be new initiatives that require suasion and brokering in the Knesset. Plans for domestic programs will be on autopilot; there will be limits on what can be done in foreign policy.
I don’t think that’s a wholly bad thing, however. I have reservations about the path being charted with the Trump administration’s “peace” proposal, and a time-out on that, for a few months, is at the very least not a net-negative, in my view.
There’s no reason why Bibi can’t sit down and talk about it. But there’s a limit to what he can commit to, given the fresh election less than four months away.
It’s not just limits he faces, however, and we’ll get to that in a minute.
Meanwhile, just as the Knesset was dissolving, an unprecedented security summit was announced: a meeting to be hosted in Israel in June, with participation by the U.S., Israel, and Russia.
The principals will be National Security Adviser John Bolton and his counterparts: