The emerging awareness over the past several years among many Arab states about the threat of Iran and Israel's common interest and partnership with them in confronting Tehran has made it easier for President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Sen. Tom Cotton told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday.
"The Arab world has changed over time . . . and it is now in a situation where the greatest threat to stability and security in the Middle East is Iran," the Arkansas Republican said.
"And therefore you have a strong alignment of interests between Arab nations and Israel. While they might not prefer this choice [to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital], they understand that their main enemy — that Israel shares — is Iran."
Others agreed that Iran's attempts at regional hegemony gives Trump new room to maneuver.
"I am right now not convinced that the Arab world sees the Palestinian issue as a core national interest," Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said. "The threat of Iran is a core national interest ... And Israel is aligned with them on these issues."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis both disagreed with Trump's decision, two sources close to the White House said, due to the traditional concern that such a move could increase tensions and harm chances of progress in the peace process.
But House Foreign Affairs Committee member Mark Meadows pointed out that "we also have to recognize that, going back decades, those policies have not produced any lasting peace accord on behalf of Israel and its neighbors."
Cotton emphasized that Trump has made "the right decision; it's an overdue decision."
The senator stressed, however, that nothing about the president's announcement should be interpreted as preventing the creation of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem, a traditional goal among international negotiators trying to solve the conflict.
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