Maariv: Ron Lauder now acting as go between Netanyahu and Jordanians
Related recent developments
- Abdullah delivers withering criticism of Israeli polices in April 6 2010 Wall Street Journal interview.
- J Street leadership meets Abdullah in Amman on May 1 2010.
- Major General (Res.) Uri Saguy chronicles the results of Lauder’s efforts at brokering talks between Netanyahu and Assad in the ’90s.
Ben Caspit, Maariv, May 3 2010 [page 8 with front-page lead; Hebrew original here]
Associate of the prime minister and Jewish billionaire Ron Lauder visited in Jordan in recent days and held several high level meetings with officials there. The Prime Minister’s Bureau is denying that these visits were conducted on behalf of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and said that Lauder briefed Netanyahu only later, after returning home yesterday.Ties between Israel and Jordan are at an all-time low and very tense. In the past year, King Abdullah has been making ever more frequent statements concerning the deteriorating situation of the Middle East and the risk of war. He has also been a harsh critic of the Israeli government as well as of Netanyahu’s policies.
Only last week the king warned, referring to construction in East Jerusalem, that Israel was playing with fire and mentioned that according to Israel’s peace accord with Jordan, the latter had rights to Jerusalem’s holy sites. He said that all options were on the table when it came to protecting he holy sites as well as Jordan’s interests in the city.
The Prime Minister’s Bureau issued the following statement yesterday: “Word Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder is a personal friend of Prime Minister Netanyahu. The last time Lauder served as a political envoy for the prime minister was 12 years ago. Mr. Lauder tends to travel from time to time to various countries in the capacity of his role in the World Jewish Congress. The prime minister had no prior knowledge of Lauder’s trip to Jordan, and it was certainly not he who dispatched him there. Moreover, the prime minister is in no need of emissaries to dispatch messages to Jordan. When such a need arises, he does this directly through a phone call with the king or a government official. Such has occurred also in recent days.”
As one might recall, Lauder served as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s personal envoy to the late Syrian president Hafez Assad during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister. Lauder shuttled between Jerusalem and Damascus and exchanged direct messages between the prime minister and the Syrian president.
A diplomatic source in Jordan said yesterday that Lauder had used his recent visit to Jordan in order to “send signals.” It can, in the least, be deduced from the Prime Minister’s Bureau’s denial that in recent days, messages were exchanged between the prime minister and King Abdullah, whether by direct phone call or official emissary. Such emissaries are usually Mossad Director Meir Dagan or National Security Adviser Uzi Arad.
Relations between Israel and Jordan are presently at particularly low point, following the king’s profound concern that the continued political impasse could harm Jordan’s standing and lead the entire region to violence.
Eli Bardenstein adds: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet today with Egyptian President Mubarak at his Sharm el-Sheikh residence where the latter has been recuperating following the gall bladder removal he underwent in Germany. As revealed by Ma’ariv, the two are expected to discuss mostly the Egyptian proposal that supervision be placed on Israeli nuclear facilities. Netanyahu will ask Mubarak to withdraw the Egyptian proposal that the Middle East be made a nuclear free zone — a proposal that is expected to come up in the nuclear summit in New York that begins today. The two will also discuss the expected renewal of the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians on Wednesday.
Tonight special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is to arrive in Israel for the expected talks. The talks are to be conducted in rounds between Jerusalem and Israel under Mitchell’s mediation. On the Israeli side, the prime minister himself is to meet with Mitchell, along with his emissary Attorney Yitzhak Molcho. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Bureau have said that the negotiating team will be “limited and compartmentalized,” and will include only Netanyahu and Molcho, with other advisors of the prime minister joining as necessary.