The King goes to Washington

Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania, along with HRH Crown Prince Hussein, meet US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and others on Capitol Hill on July 22, 2021, in Washington DC. (Photo: AFP
His Majesty King Abdullah, Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (center), and Cyprus's President Nikos Anastasiadis (right) pose for a photograph prior to their trilateral meeting in Athens on July 28, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
A recent prescheduled trip led me to Washington DC to lecture and meet with some American officials and think-tanks. To my good fortune, the trip coincided with His Majesty King Abdullah’s visit to the United States, together with Her Majesty Queen Rania and HRH Crown Prince Hussein.اضافة اعلان

From what I saw from the pronouncements of officials and researchers I met, the White House, and the articles published by celebrity commentators in leading US papers, the Royal visit has achieved its objectives with flying colors and His Majesty aced it on all fronts.

The carefully worded statements of the King sat very well with interlocutors. “We want to share in the heavy-lifting as regional players” scored perfectly and invoked positive responses. The King was not there to ask the US administration to shoulder the responsibility of resolving all the thorny issues in our beleaguered region; he wanted regional players to undertake their responsibilities.

The current American administration is facing tough problems at home, starting with the economy, heightened violence, a rise in COVID-19 cases and casualties, and a stubborn lack of cooperation from the Republican Party. The next midterm elections taking place in November 2022 will be a test that the Biden Administration must pass. From the looks of it, that goal is not easily tenable and will require devotion and hard work.

Moreover, the United States is now facing a more aggressive and power-hungry rival in the People’s Republic of China. China does not shy away from the challenge of competing with the US and will not allow its adversaries to supplant it on the world stage.

When I checked with my discussion partners from the American Administration about the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations’ low priority, I was pleasantly surprised to be assured that such a statement is “over-exaggerated”. The US highly appreciates the importance of reaching quiet and calm in the region. Yet, they believe that on-the-ground preparations should be exerted before it is time to engage in serious and fruitful negotiations.

Work is now being exerted to ensure that the current Israeli government survives Netanyahu’s innuendos to regain power. Once the Israeli Knesset passes the Public Budget Law, it will be considered solid proof that the government will survive until the next fall.

Moreover, the Biden Administration is working to restructure the image of the Palestinian Authority and improve its popularity. To achieve this goal, President Mahmoud Abbas should strive for more transparency and governance.

On the other side, the Israeli Prime Minister, who will be visiting Washington in Mid-August, should be hard-pressed to relax inhuman practices in the occupied Palestinian Territories, allow easier mobility and freedom of worship, and stop raids and the ugly masquerades of the ultra-religious in holy places such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Haram Al-Khalil in Hebron.

Once the two sides are ready and capable of engaging in serious negotiations with end-game objectives clearly enunciated,  the US Administration, the Arab  Quartet, the Geneve Quartet, and other international groups would be ready to step in to  cushion and facilitate progress towards a  just, equal, and honorable two-state solution.

All of these developments would have been untenable without King Abdullah’s resolve and deep commitment. 

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