Bahrain Conference Prioritizes Iran Threat over Palestian Grievances

An Interview with Dan Diker


by Jerry Gordon and Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant (August 2019)

Palestinian Protesters of Trump Plan




comment of Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesmen over the release of President Trump’s Peace to Prosperity, A New Vision for the Palestinian People and the Broader Middle East prior to the long awaited two day workshop in Manama, Bahrain, held June 25-26. Special Presidential Assistant Jared Kushner and Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt were invited by Bahrain Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. They presented the 40-page $50 million 10-year economic ‘opportunity of the century’ to an important assemblage of seven Sunni Arab countries and emirates. Among those who attended the Bahrain workshop were Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. Oman, which has friendly relations with Israel, did not attend.


The Bahrain workshop coincided with a Trilateral Summit of US, Russian and Israeli National Security Advisers which was convened in Jerusalem on the matter of Iran’s encroaching presence in Syria. A helicopter tour over the Jordan Valley with US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Israeli PM Netanyahu illustrated the country’s narrow mid-waist and the necessity of Israel’s control over the Samarian Judean ridgeline in any peace plan. The message for the Trump Peace team was only Israel could secure its own security.


Kushner’s pitch:


My direct message to the Palestinian people is that despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you.


To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict—one that guarantees Israel’s security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people.



The $50 million economic plan would create an estimated 1 million jobs for Egyptians, Palestinians and Jordanians. The Plan offers a radical economic shift in the region. R. Glenn Hubbard, Columbia University Graduate School of Business Dean and former Bush Economic Adviser calls it a ‘Middle East Marshall Plan,’ as it emphasizes private business and not charity access to create jobs. That might have been a bit of stretch as the Marshall Plan bolstered the recovery and unification of Europe post WWII with countries that ostensibly share the same values. That’s not the case with the Palestinians.


There was one exception to the Trump Economic plan. The infrastructure portion of the plan proposed building a corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. That was objected to by Israeli security officials as imperiling the country’s national security.


Palestinian leaders, Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat continued to bewail the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem depriving them of a future Palestinian State capital. Further, they objected to the Administration curtailing US financial support for the UNWRA refugee program. They also objected to the US reducing funding over the continuation of the PLO ‘pay for slay’ program of payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families. That didn’t prevent a contingent of Palestinian businessmen from attending the Bahrain workshop. However, upon their return, a Palestinian businessman from Hebron, Saleh Abu Miala was arrested by Palestinian Security on alleged charges of sedition. It took the intervention of US Special Envoy Greenblatt to have the PA release Miala.


Read more in New English Review:
Can Netanyahu Win Israel’s Historic Election and Form a Ruling Coalition?
David Bellavia Steps Up Again: A Medal and a Speech
Defending the Indefensible: Why Holocaust Denial Should be Legal


Professor Eugene Kontorovich of the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University, the architect of a multi-state anti-BDS statute enacted by over two dozen US States, commented:


The Bahrain workshop is intended to improve the Palestinian economy that is beleaguered by corruption, ineptitude and a bloated bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership refuses to cooperate with the U.S.’ generous approach.


The Palestinians have once again “forfeited another opportunity to improve their lot and build peace bottom-up.


Going forward, the U.S. will likely realize that Israel must take unilateral actions to protect its interests while improving the lives of Palestinians and will support such steps.


Despite the PA rejection of the Plan, Special Envoy Greenblatt expressed his optimistic view that ‘they had changed the narrative.’


attended a morning service at the only Jewish synagogue in Manama—an anomaly in the Gulf region.



Khalifa went out of his way to convey an important message about peace and normalization of relations with Israel. In an interview with Barak Ravid of Israel’s Channel 13, the Bahrain Foreign Minister said:


Israel is a country in the Middle East. Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region historically. So, the Jewish people have a place among us.


Behind Khalifa’s comment was the fact that Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia had changed from supporting the Palestinian cause to the priority of dealing with the threat from Iran. That meant that regional security required the involvement of Israel and the US under the Trump Administration, thus explaining their willingness to publicly approve the Administration’s plans for the Middle East.


Further evidence of Bahrain’s role in Gulf region normalization of relations occurred when both Foreign Ministers Katz of Israel and Khalifa of Bahrain met and had their picture taken at a US State Department Conference on Religious Freedom at which President Trump spoke. A Times of Israel report noted the significance of the meeting of the two Foreign Ministers in Washington, DC:


Katz said the public meeting with the Bahraini minister was ‘another example of our growing diplomatic connections.’


‘I will continue to work with [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] to advance Israel’s relations with the Gulf countries,’ he said.


Katz later put out a statement, saying the meeting was organized by State Department officials and that he and Khalifa ‘discussed Iran, regional threats and bilateral relations, and agreed to remain in contact.’


There were indications that Israeli representatives below the ministerial level may be invited to a proposed security conference on air and sea navigational rights clearly aimed at Iran.


When prompted on the matter of whether annexing Israeli settlements was a possibility in the Administration peace plans, Greenblatt said:


I don’t even like the word settlements. I think it’s a pejorative term. I use the term neighborhoods and cities.


I think that one of the challenges of this file, as people speak about the West Bank, Judea and Samaria as being occupied, I would argue that the land is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties. Calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict.


With this background, Jerry Gordon and Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant of Israel News Talk Radio – Beyond the Matrix interviewed Dan Diker, Director of the Political Warfare Project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.


Jerry: Dan is the Director of the Project to Counter Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was a former Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress. He is the author of several books including The PACBI Deception: Unmasked. Terror Links and Political Warfare Masquerading as Human Rights and co-Author of Defeating Denormalization, Shared Palestinian and Israel Perspectives on a New Path to Peace. What Dan is going to discuss today is that at the Bahrain conference, the Sunni-Arab world told the Palestinians, you are not the priority, it is Iran.


Rod: Which is a profound statement.


Jerry: It is among the most profound statements coming out of our discussions with Dan. Dan made these remarks last year at this time on Beyond the Matrix.


Jerry: This is going to emerge in the discussion given what Dan and his team at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs have talked about which was being put forward at the Conference.


Rod: Dan, a fifty-billion-dollar economic plan was part of this deal of the century. What were the highpoints of this plan?


Jerry: Dan, coincident with our interview was the comment from the Dean of the Graduate Business School at Columbia, R. Glenn Hubbard, who drew attention to this by saying that the two most important economic aspects of this plan were first private business not charity-driving prosperity and secondarily housing and businesses needing access to capital. He considers this a Middle East Marshall Plan. What are your comments?


Jerry: Dan, it sounds as if the comments made by Former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat are spot on with what you just said. He talked about a plan that was focused on Area C and creation of an additional 12 industrial zones. Is that something that basically you would approve of?



Rod: Is this plan going to continue without Palestinian support?


Rod: Dan, did you say that the Arab states are saying that dealing with Iran is more important than a Palestinian State. Did I hear that correctly?


Dan: Rod, the title of the workshop in Bahrain was ‘Peace to Prosperity.’ That means you have got to have an economically viable infrastructure in order to achieve the long-term peace and security stability. The Arab world understands. This is also what the Americans and, more increasingly, the Europeans are understanding. The Palestinian leadership simply rejects the notion or the right of the Jewish people to their own self-determination in the Middle East. They keep rejecting any sort of logical approach to reaching Palestinian sovereignty. It is security for them and for their Israeli neighbors. It is more important to lay down economic infrastructure first. Only in that way will it naturally lead to a Palestinian sovereign entity if they ever get their act together. I have my doubts.


Jerry: Dan the hypocrisy of the PLO Fatah leaders in opposing the activities at Bahrain was reflected in a group of about a dozen or more Palestinian businessmen who independently of the PLO Fatah leadership went to Bahrain. They returned only to be arrested on charges of sedition. That sends a horrible message to the rest of the world and perhaps even their former Arab allies. What is your comment?


Rod: Dan, the antics of the Palestinian Authority aside, why are they are still rejecting the idea of prosperity while boycotting Israel, who they allege is oppressing them. Can you comment on that?



Rod: Is this an obviously a dead issue—the linkage between the two communities with a secure highway?


Rod: Dan, several months ago, I can remember us on an interview talking about the major components of this idea of bringing peace to the region through economic prosperity. There were other people who were naysayers of the idea saying it will never work. That you never can get all the partners together and yet, we are now seeing this. How does that make you feel?


Dan: It is gratifying Rod. Over a year ago The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published a monograph called Defeating Denormalization. It was the first time that a policy book was co-authored by Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians allowed us to publish their articles publicly. Those articles called for exactly what we are seeing today which is a you know a prosperity linked regional peace process. The Palestinians are themselves saying it. I urge people to read that monograph. That interview on your show a year ago has been adopted as part of the mainstream thinking so this is encouraging. I think it means that there is sort of a democratization of influence that can take place among people in the private sector, not only as government initiatives.


Rod: You were invited to the White House to discuss some of the content of your book, correct?


Dan: Yes, I was invited to the White House by Middle East advisor to President Trump, Jason Greenblatt, concerned with this issue. I shared these ideas with him. The meeting had been scheduled for twenty minutes and we sat well over an hour both times. So, I must say I was very impressed by those advisors who were dealing with this Middle East Peace Process lead by Attorney Jason Greenblatt. They asked thoughtful questions and were deeply committed to understanding the distinctions in Middle Eastern political culture. That is what led to a very adventurous and courageous approach. I think Jared Kushner has done an excellent job in putting this together. The fact that this approach is currently being endorsed by the Arab leadership Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, even Qatar, sitting there as part of the assembly really says it all. The fact that the Palestinians refuse to join it should send a very loud message to all those who are wondering how the Palestinians have allowed themselves to be deluded during all these years. Here you have a real shift in thinking and something that has become a consensus discussion in how to create a more stable and secure region.


Jerry: Dan, there was another major event recently. That was the trilateral meeting in Jerusalem of US National Security Advisor John Bolton, his counterpart from Israel, and a counterpart from Russia. Prior to that Summit, Prime Minister Netanyahu took Ambassador Bolton on a helicopter trip purposefully to the Jordan Valley. That is a throwback to one of the comments you made over a year ago about the necessity of maintaining Israeli security. What do you think occurred at this summit to deal with Iran?


Dan: First of all, it was no coincidence that the Bahrain Conference, and the Trilateral National Security Meeting in Jerusalem overlapped. They happened at the same time because both the economic stability and security and military national security are connected one with the other. It is also very significant that they met in Jerusalem. The United States, Russia and the Israelis met in Israel in Jerusalem, Israel’s Capital, about how to secure Israel and the broader Middle East region in the event of some sort of conflict with Iran and its proxies. They went on a helicopter ride over the Jordan Valley in order to emphasize how narrow Israel is and that Israel has no strategic depth. Israel is a country that is nine miles wide at its narrowest point East West. It is is a country that can only defend itself by itself. It can only defend itself by having the very modest territory that it already controls including the high ground. You know in the helicopter ride you can see very clearly that the hills, what they call the Judea/Samarian Hill Ridge, provides a natural wall against any terror infiltration from the East. Therefore, every Israeli government since 1967 have insisted on the concept of defensible borders for Israel based on retaining control of all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. I think that the fact that the National Security Advisors Patrushev from Russia and Bolton from the United States understand that from witnessing it firsthand. Having the media report on it is a very important because it gets lost to a lot of people who look at the resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli problem by pressuring Israel to concede all this territory and relying on a piece of paper called a Peace Agreement as the ultimate security. What I think the US National Security Advisor saw and was reported on, was that only Israel can secure itself. Out of those security requirements could come some sort of diplomatic agreement not the other way around.


Read more in New English Review:
Baseball Lit 101: A Casual Seminar
From Jaws to Gums
Jerry: Against that backdrop the Trump administration rolled out a new form of sanctions against the Iranian Ayatollah, the Supreme leader and leaders of the IRGC. Is that going to have any significant impact in curtailing Iran’s behavior in the region?


Rod: Dan, what comes to mind is a basketball term called a full court press. It just seems that this administration along with some coordination of the Arab states and Israel are making a full court press to put pressure on Iran to either get on board or be left behind. What do you think?


Rod: Yes.


Rod: Right. As you said carry a big stick, but also have big carrot as well. Thank you so much for coming on the program for this very informative interview. You nailed it. Thank you for the work that you are doing. We really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to come on to the program. Shalom.



Listen to the original Israel News Talk Radio – Beyond the Matrix interview.


«Previous Article Table of Contents Next Article»




Jerome B Gordon is a Senior Vice President of the New English Review, author of The West Speaks, NER Press 2012, and co-author of Genocide in Sudan: Caliphate Threatens Africa and the World, JAD Publishing, 2017. Mr. Gordon is a former US Army intelligence officer who served during the Viet Nam era. He is producer and co-host of Israel News Talk Radio – Beyond the Matrix. He was the co-host and co-producer of weekly The Lisa Benson Show for National Security that aired out of KKNT960 in Phoenix Arizona from 2013 to 2016 and co-host and co-producer of the Middle East Round Table periodic series on 1330amWEBY, Northwest Florida Talk Radio, Pensacola, Florida from 2007 to 2017.

Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant is creator and host of Israel News Talk Radio-Beyond the Matrix.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast