By Cal Thomas, Washington Times—
The consensus in Israel is that the relationship between the Jewish state and the United States is going to improve in a Trump administration, says former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Zalman Shoval.
On a recent visit to Washington, D.C., Mr. Shoval told me that he believes Donald Trump and his Cabinet picks so far have a more “realistic” view of the Middle East than President Obama, who from his first days in office, “perhaps before, believed it was his calling to fix once and for all, all matters between the U.S. and the Arab and Muslim worlds, as expressed in his Cairo speech. This gives Trump in the hearts and minds of more than a few Israelis a head start.”
Mr. Shoval said he believes the issue of a Palestinian state — the objective of U.S. foreign policy over several administrations — has become less concerning than the regional and international threat posed by a nuclear Iran. He likes recent statements by Secretary of Defense-designate Gen. James Mattis about the way forward in dealing with an unstable Iran, believing Gen. Mattis recognizes that as important as it is to defeat the Islamic State, or ISIS, the real threat in the Middle East is Iran.
It’s not only the nuclear deal that bothers Mr. Shoval, though he believes Iran will eventually have a bomb, unless it is stopped. It is also bothersome that Iran continues with its terrorist activities, subsidizing anti-American and anti-Israel groups around the world because radical mullahs think their god has ordered them to do so. That makes any kind of diplomatic agreement with nations Iran regards as “infidels” impossible.
Even when the battle for Mosul is over and victory has been declared over that ISIS stronghold, Mr. Shoval believes, “what it really will mean is that the Iranians and the Shia are going to be the real victors. They will continue their attempts to build a territorial corridor all the way to the Mediterranean along with Hezbollah, which is not only a threat to Israel, but also something the so-called moderate Arab states look at with a great deal of concern.”
Mr. Shoval says he hopes the incoming Trump administration realizes that Iran cannot be a partner with the United States in the Middle East “even if from time to time it seems like that because of what’s happening in Syria. Ultimately, Iran is a great danger.”