Robert M. Danin

Middle East Matters

Danin analyzes critical developments and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

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Showing posts for "U.S. Foreign Policy"

President Trump: Peace Processor

by Robert M. Danin
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Monroe Room of the State Department in Washington September 2, 2010 (Jason Reed/Reuters)

President Donald Trump’s evolving views on Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear to be coming into greater focus as he prepares to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House later this week.

Over the past few months, Trump has expressed two broad sentiments seemingly in tension with one another. In his first interview after the November 2016 vote, then President-elect Trump reiterated a previously expressed desire to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it “the ultimate deal.” Read more »

President Trump’s Settlement Policy Breaks Ground

by Robert M. Danin
Houses in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev are seen from the Israeli settlement of Givon Ha'hadasha (Baz Ratner/Reuters).

For the first dozen days of the Trump administration, it seemed to Israelis that they had a free hand to settle the West Bank. Israel announced its intention to build thousands of new houses, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the Knesset and declared that Israel would establish its first new settlement in decades. Washington said nothing. Read more »

Paved with Good Intentions? France’s Middle East Peace Conference

by Robert M. Danin
French President Francois Hollande (L) welcomes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Elysee Palace in Paris January 16, 2015 (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters).

The Madrid peace conference in 1991 to launch comprehensive Arab-Israeli negotiations was a diplomatic triumph. The 2007 Annapolis conference relaunched peace-making and a new, well-prepared three track security, economic, and political process on pre-negotiated terms of reference just a few years after the violent second Intifada. These were important moments—historically, and diplomatically. Read more »

Secretary Kerry’s Vision-Seeking Israeli-Palestinian Speech

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leaves the podium after speaking with the media in Manhattan, New York, September 22, 2016 (Darrin Ornitz/Reuters).

Secretary of State John Kerry just delivered the speech he’s been eager to give for several years. Following the abrupt failure of his ambitious all-or-nothing peace initiative in April 2014, Kerry and some of his aides have suggested that their efforts had actually broken important diplomatic ground, and that they had produced new innovative formulas for a conflict-ending comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The secretary apparently wanted to share these ideas, if for no other reason than to document publicly the seriousness of his efforts and as one final plea over the urgency of solving a problem he is convinced will soon become insoluble due to dynamic changes on the ground—namely Israeli settlement activity. Read more »

Trump May Inadvertently Force Netanyahu’s Hand

by Robert M. Danin
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) speaks to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during their meeting in New York, September 25, 2016 (Reuters)

The election of Donald Trump has fueled an intense struggle within Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government over the future disposition of the West Bank that Israel has occupied for nearly fifty years.

At one end of the debate is coalition partner and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the pro-settler Jewish Home party. Bennett declared Israel effectively unshackled by American constraints on settlement activity the day after Trump’s victory, saying the “era of a Palestinian state is over.” Bennett has also called for Israel to take immediate steps to annex parts of the West Bank. On Sunday, Bennett reportedly met in New York with three members of President-Elect Trump’s team and urged the new administration to consider alternatives to the land-for-peace approach pursued by previous American presidents. Read more »

Diplomacy Disonnected from Real Israeli-Palestinian Developments

by Robert M. Danin
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attend an international and interministerial conference in a bid to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in Paris, France, June 3, 2016 (Stephane de Sakutin/Reuters).

Foreign Ministers from over two dozen countries convened in Paris today to find a way to restart moribund Israeli and Palestinian negotiations. Nether Israeli nor Palestinian officials were present, however. That is but one of the many reasons that this latest French effort seems detached from the realities on the ground and in the politics of the Middle East today. I discuss the latest diplomatic efforts emanating from Paris, Cairo, and Riyadh, as well as the political upheavals taking place in Israeli and Palestinian politics today in an interview with You can read the full interview here.

Four Strategic Challenges for Israel’s Next Government

by Robert M. Danin
An Israeli soldier picks his ballot at a polling station in a navy base in the southern city of Ashdod January 20, 2013 (Cohen/Courtesy Reuters).

Israel’s next government will assume the mantle of a strong and prosperous country. While facing a range of security challenges and tremendous regional turmoil, Israel today enjoys a preponderance of power over any likely regional threat or adversarial coalition. Its national economy is robust, and the country’s national cohesion remains exceptionally strong. Read more »

Netanyahu hands bat to Obama critics

by Robert M. Danin
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 3, 2015 (Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

This article was originally published here on on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.

Despite the hype, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still managed to deliver a speech that was both magisterial and audacious. Pulling few punches, Netanyahu went to Washington’s epicenter and told assembled lawmakers that the United States’ president, Barak Obama, is negotiating a terrible deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Read more »

This Week: Mosul Offensive, Netanyahu’s Address, and Turkey’s Incursion

by Robert M. Danin
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivers remarks to troops at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 23, 2015 (Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

ISIS. Ashton Carter, wrapping up his first overseas trip as secretary of defense, met with top U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Kuwait on Monday to review the U.S.-led international coalition’s strategy against ISIS. Carter announced that the Obama administration had “the ingredients of the strategy” to defeat ISIS militarily in Iraq and Syria, but that further efforts were required to combat ISIS’ use of social media. Read more »

This Week: Egypt Seeks Nukes, ISIS Gets Escalation, and U.S.-Iran Shun Extensions

by Robert M. Danin
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting in Cairo February 10, 2015 (Klimentyev/Courtesy Reuters).

Significant Developments

Egypt. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced an agreement to jointly build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant on Tuesday during Putin’s first visit to Egypt in over ten years. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki stated that, “[the United States] support[s] peaceful nuclear power programs as long as obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Egypt is a signatory… are fully met.” Read more »