Sunday, September 06, 2020

LA Times says Trump hasn't followed through on Middle East peace promise he never made

The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday: 

When he announced a potentially historic deal last month in which Persian Gulf nation United Arab Emirates said it was preparing to recognize Israel, President Trump predicted other Arab states would quickly follow suit. 
But after two trips through the region by senior Trump advisors to build on what they hoped would be momentum from the Emirates deal, no other Arab nation has said it is willing to take the long-shunned leap to accept and recognize Israel as a legitimate Mideast neighbor, at least not until Israel resolves its conflict with Palestinians.
Did Trump say that other Arab countries would "quickly" follow the UAE?

Not that I can find. In the official transcript of his statements on August Trump merely says, "Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead. And I want to just thank them for being — it’s not surprising, knowing Mohammed so well. It’s not surprising. They are in that lead position. And normalize relations with Israel. We are already discussing this with other nations — with very powerful, very good nations and people that want to see peace in the Middle East. So you will probably see others of these, but this is the first one in more than 25 years."

Nowhere did Trump predict other Arab nations following the UAE within weeks. But the LA Times pretended he did - just so they can gleefully say that he could not follow through on a promise he never made. 

It takes time for a nation to completely change its policy towards a former enemy. This should be obvious. But the LA Times is so tied to its narrative that it needs to do everything it can to downplay the historic accord.

One can only imagine how different, and celebratory, the LA TImes' coverage would have been if this was announced by Obama or  Biden.

Beyond that, the LA Times article makes things up:
Kushner used his four-day trip to the Middle East to try to entice additional Arab countries to join the Emirates in moving to normalize relations with Israel. That follows a similar sojourn last month by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, who traveled to five countries in the region. Both officials came up empty-handed.

How does the LAT know this? Normalization isn't a switch that is turned on or off - it involves lots of moving parts. It took over a decade of secret ties between Israel and the UAE before this announcement with lots of intermediate steps, like allowing Israeli athletes to compete under the Israeli flag in the UAE. 

And we know that a lot has happened in the three weeks since the Israel/UAE agreement was announced.

For example, both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announced that El Al flights would be able to fly over their territories en route to the UAE - that isn't exactly nothing. Saudi media and officials - as well as clerics - have changed the tenor of their official statements away from being anti-Israel to being more conciliatory. 

Most importantly, the PLO demanded an Arab League session denouncing the UAE, and nothing happened. Gulf countries outside the UAE are no longer willing to publicly oppose peace with Israel.

This is a sea change in the attitudes between powerful Arab states and Israel - all happening since mid-August. 

And this all remains unreported in the pages of the Los Angeles Times.

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