Is She/He Good for Israel? Trump’s Nominees Undergo Mideast Vetting
International interest in America’s president-elect and the government taking shape is off the charts, but nowhere is the interest as intense and the scrutiny so detailed as in the state of Israel. It’s not without justification: in Washington, the US-Israel alliance figures in to all aspects of Middle Eastern policy for reasons of domestic political concerns; and in the Middle East, there is no nation whose influence is greater than that of the United States. So it’s no surprise that what some jokingly call the “Is it good for Israel?” test is receiving a great deal of attention. President-elect Trump’s first appointment to impact directly on the region is that of ambassador to the United Nations, Governor Nikki Haley. Speaking to officials and laymen, The Media Line is finding positive reception to the appointment despite not being well known in Jerusalem or Ramallah. Haley’s opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement is a plus, as is her anti-BDS – the effort by anti-Israeli forces to boycott, divest and sanction Israel – stance. Her state, South Carolina, led the nation in passing anti-BDS legislation. Although no decision has been announced, Israelis appear confident that whoever ends up secretary of state will be acceptable with old friends like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney apparently vying for the spot. Buzz is also being generated by reports that indicate Trump might be interested in assigning son-in-law Jared Kirschner a special role in the Middle East – a move that Israelis see as “safe” in their perspective although Kirschner is seen as lacking the gravitas to achieve the success in peacemaking that has eluded so many seasoned diplomats before him. On the Palestinian side, most believe any appointee will have to be pro-Israel but many believe a deal can be made regardless.