Heading to Warsaw, Netanyahu hopes summit brings Arab ties out into the open

February 13, 2019
Observers doubtful that Gulf states, Saudi Arabia will be willing to use conference on Iran to go public on clandestine cooperation with Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018

Aaron Heller writes in Times of Israel, ” The Mideast conference in Poland starting Wednesday offers Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an opportunity to flaunt in public what he has long boasted about happening behind the scenes — Israel’s improved relations with some Gulf Arab nations. Several Gulf dignitaries are expected to attend in a potential show of force against uninvited Iran. But the Palestinians are urging a boycott of the conference, and it remains to be seen whether Arab officials will make any public overtures to Netanyahu without a major concession to the Palestinian cause, which still animates the Arab public.”

“The United States and Poland are sponsoring the conference in Warsaw, which they say is aimed at promoting peace and security in the region but appears to be mainly focused on isolating Iran.  Iran has denounced the conference as an American anti-Iran “circus.” Russia has said it will not attend, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is also skipping the event. For US President Donald Trump’s administration, it is a high-profile occasion to gather all its Middle East allies. For Poland, it offers a chance to strengthen ties with Washington as it seeks greater protection from Russia.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, walks past Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, as he and other foreign ministers arrive before a family photo during the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS meeting, at the State Department, February 6, 2019

“But the real winner could be Netanyahu, who has repeatedly stated that Israel has clandestinely developed good relations with several Arab states, despite a lack of official ties. Bringing such contacts out into the open would mark a major diplomatic coup, put a seal of approval on his goal of improving Israel’s standing in the world and provide a powerful photo-op for his reelection campaign ahead of the April vote in Israel.”…

“The Palestinians have preemptively rejected the plan, accusing the Trump White House of being unfairly biased toward Israel. They’ve also asked Arab countries to boycott or downgrade their representation at the conference in Poland. “We view the Warsaw conference as a plot against the Palestinian cause,” Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said this week.” (more…)

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