A colleague calls my attention to this report concerning Rep. Nita Lowey’s take on the Middle East. As chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, she confirms that foreign aid for Israel “will not falter.” But her comments on Obama’s policies and the reactions of those in the Middle East are most noteworthy. First, on the Jerusalem housing issue:
While the White House might not have accepted Netanyahu’s detailed presentation on the zoning process in the Interior Ministry, whose decision he apologized for even though he said it took him by surprise, Lowey expressed understanding for the prime minister’s position.
“I think there’s a general understanding that Jerusalem is in a different category than the West Bank. And the issues surrounding Jerusalem, most agree, will be in the final stages of negotiations,” she said.
And, using Netanyahu’s nickname, she stressed, “Bibi has the support of Congress. It is solid. It is secure.”
But who holds to that general understanding? Certainly not Obama, who has reneged on prior understandings and is attempting to force unilateral concessions now.
Her most interesting comment however concerned the Arab states. Are they bent out of shape about Jerusalem housing? Concerned about the fate of the Palestinians? Not very much. Confirming what many who travel and speak to Arab governments report, Lowey says they are agitated about Iran:
Lowey also pointed to the different audiences that Arab leaders need to consider when they speak up, referring to a recent trip to the Gulf and the concern she heard about Iran.
In Saudi Arabia, she met with King Abdullah and came away with the understanding that “Saudi Arabia doesn’t believe the sanctions will work. Let me just say he’s supportive of pursuing other options.”
So the notion that only a Palestinian peace deal can unlock support for strong action against Iran is, well, nonsense, as many critics of Obama’s peace-process fixation have long argued. Indeed, the Arab governments, unlike Obama, are willing to go beyond sanctions, presumably including the use of military force. So Israel and its Arab neighbors are skeptical of sanctions and unwilling to buy into a containment strategy. But not Obama. This is the peculiar but entirely expected result of Obama’s foot-dragging on Iran and peace-process obsession. Perhaps it’s time for Israel and its neighbors to work out a plan and leave Obama out of it. He seems to be a hindrance and not a help in thwarting the greatest danger to the region.