TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s successful visit to the Middle East reflects the changes unfolding there, especially with regard to the growing alliance between Israel and Sunni Arab states, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday.
“Today, we are witnessing a reassessment of regional relationships, most notably between Israel and a number of our Arab partners, all friends of America, but too often adversaries of each other,” McMaster told a group of Jewish leaders at the American Jewish Committee’s 2017 Global Forum. “Today, their interests are converging. This is an opportunity.”
He praised Trump’s “extraordinary speech” in Saudi Arabia, in which the president “outlined a path of unity and peace to people of all faiths.” He added that more and more Muslim leaders were stepping forward to condemn “those who are hijacking Islam to justify violence against innocents.”
While McMaster made no specific reference to the nuclear deal with Iran, he said the country’s shifting tactics were strengthening ties between Israel and Arab nations that share an interest in quashing Iran’s aspirations for regional hegemony.
“Over the last 40 years, Iran has shifted its tactics and operational approach, acting through its terrorist proxy network, building up its ballistic missile capability, taking provocative actions in the Gulf and beyond, and working to keep its Arab neighbors perpetually weak and engaged in sectarian conflict,” he said.
“In this challenging environment, Israel has adapted and performed amazingly well, in part because the country has consistently recognized and acted on opportunities when others might have only seen difficulties,” he said.
“The opportunities associated with new partnerships include the renewed pursuit of enduring peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” McMaster said.
The national security chief added that the U.S. expects clear actions from Gulf allies to counter the Iranian threat as well as other terror groups in the region.
“None of us, least of all the president, will be impressed by mere words,” McMaster said. “We expect to see action and we will hold one another accountable as we strengthen our existing partnerships and forge new ones.”
“We will encourage and reward success, and we will deal with inaction and lack of progress accordingly as well,” he added.
McMaster’s remarks came a few days after Trump signed a waiver that delayed his campaign promise to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but McMaster made no mention of the contentious issue.