(photo credit: AJCONGRESS)
“US President Donald Trump understands that sometimes being provocative and disruptive has some merit in negotiation,” American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the president’s visit to the region next week.
Amid a flurry of contradictory reports ahead of Trump’s trip, one issue that will be keenly followed is the possibility of the US Embassy moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Rosen discussed two different aspects of Trump that could manifest themselves during his trip: a comprehensive diplomatic approach, and one in which he would make waves with a bold and decisive move.
“One is that he will assess the situation, get input from all players in the peace process and [keep] the Middle East situation with terrorism, ISIS etc. [in mind], and try to come back and find a strategic way forward – and I’m sure each side is giving him different ideas,” Rosen said.
But, Rosen said, Trump is “skilled” at making provocative decisions.
“Does he turn in that direction and do something such as announce he is going to move the embassy and send a loud and clear message that he’s serious and needs to be dealt with – that’s a part of Donald Trump we see all the time. So which Donald Trump will appear?” he mused.
“I don’t think moving the embassy is Israel’s biggest priority, but I think moving the embassy might be that disruptive moment where everyone would have to understand that they need to change the road map,” the AJC head added.
Rosen has close ties with US leaders on both sides of the political aisle, including former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
As well as frequently meeting with officials in Israel, Rosen travels extensively in the region to meet with decision-makers.
In recent weeks he went to Saudi Arabia where he met with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al Saud, to Qatar where he met with senior officials, as well as meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Washington DC.
He sees a shift in attention in the region away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I don’t see them [the Gulf states] bringing up the conflict anymore.
I think they understand that there is a positive outcome potentially in normalizing relations with Israel,” he remarked, mentioning Iran, terrorism, economy and technology as issues on high on their agenda.
“They find niches in which they can do a bit of business with Israel, or have a dialogue with Israel on security matters, but they are very conscious that the street will react if they just come out tomorrow morning and say they want to normalize relations.... but they want to do that,” Rosen asserted, noting that his discussions focus on developing Arabs’ people-to-people dialogue with Israelis, and expanding their economic opportunities with Israel.
“That’s the discussion that’s taking place now,” he reiterated. Though he acknowledged that countries in the region still want to see the conflict solved, he said that it is no longer all “about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – things have changed.
“They are looking for opportunities to have more dialogue and security and business cooperation, and I think President Trump could push them in that direction – either he will take a provocative move, or a regional effort to find a solution to the conflict,” Rosen concluded, hopeful that a new tack will bring results.