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Gilad Ardan: "We are expected to see more Muslim countries join the Abrahamic Accords" Israel today


Gilad Ardan finished 11 months as Israel's ambassador to Washington this week, alongside continuing his role as Israel's ambassador to the UN. • In an exclusive interview, he talks about the US attitude toward the nuclear deal: : "I am optimistic that at the end of 2022 when you come 2023 the exemption will be granted" • and for being a political actor who represents a government that his party opposes:

Gilad Ardan actually served for 10 months as Israel's ambassador to Washington.

At the same time, he also serves as Israel's ambassador to the UN, operating from New York - a position in which he will continue to serve, and we will also reach the complexities and meanings that result from the multiplication of positions.

Arden went on a mission in the summer of 2020 on behalf of the Netanyahu-Gantz government, Manuchta Eden. His conclusion with Netanyahu was that as long as he served as prime minister, Arden would be the ambassador to Washington. As a senior minister at the time, his departure from Israel involved great political risk. He knew that the tenure in Washington, which is also the more important of the two, could be short-lived, as it did. It must be said that even if the Ganz-Netanyahu government had not fallen, it is likely that Ganz as prime minister would have appointed another ambassador to Washington on his behalf.

But Arden is aiming high, the highest. And when his bid for the Likud presidency arrives - and it will arrive - he wants to present to party members not only ten years of ministerial experience, but also significant political background. Indeed, although his tenure ended quickly, it included significant milestones. The transition from the heyday of Trump to the democratic government of Biden, the entry into the work of a completely new Israeli government after 12 years not headed by Netanyahu, and yes, a development that will affect the lives of all Israelis for many years - exemption from issuing US visas. that.

We talk on the phone when he again makes its way from new York to Washington to give an overlap Last successor street "avenue international 3514" in Washington, the new Ambassador Michael (Mike) Herzog. the track that lasts four hours, made at least twice a week during the period. It was not easy, he admits.

"The first year was unbearable, but the heaviest price was paid by my family. It was never easy to move with four children to another state, but our first year in New York was the hardest we experienced as a family. We arrived in August 2020 at the height of the corona and even before vaccinations.

" The children only studied for two days at school and the rest of the time at home in a new country.

People did not invite others to their homes, so it was very difficult to make social connections.

It was very challenging.

But now New York is opening up.

I'm going with my son to see Amara Studmeier and in Washington Danny Abdia.

Life has become easier. "

"It's not easy to move with four children to another country."

Arden and his successor in Washington, Mike Herzog,

So let's start with life itself, as they say, when do you think Israelis will get an exemption from getting a visa?

"The process at the moment also very much depends on us and the support of all internal government bodies. Because the political will of the administration has already been expressed at the highest levels by President Biden and the Minister of Homeland Security, Alejandro Myorks. By the way, six years ago Homeland, he expressed his desire to grant Israel an exemption, so he is committed.

"When I started my job I convened the embassy staff and made the issue of visas a high priority. There was a lot of skepticism, as the issue has been on the table for many years and has not been resolved. In my conversations with members of Congress and with government representatives, I emphasized the importance of the decision in terms of relations between the two countries, and explained that the treatment of Israelis in the military should be different from their peers in the world.

"Once the visa approvers in Jerusalem are instructed not to reject visa applications from young veterans, the refusal rate will go down and the countdown will begin until the exemption is granted. And ends successfully, then in the second half of 2022 or early 2023 the exemption will be granted.I do not want to precede the celebrations but definitely optimistic.

"This will be a significant relief for Israeli citizens after decades of queuing for visas, paying money and going through a procedure that is sometimes a bit humiliating because you are treated as if you are a suspect. It will be a historic moment in relations between the countries and I am proud to be a part of it."

Is there a visa fee, perhaps in the form of an agreement with the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem?

"I do not know of any consideration that Israel needed and I do not think there is one. Understand, this move is also in American, tourism and business interest. Israel is the closest ally the United States has in the Middle East and one of the closest in the world. There are intelligence and other collaborations that the administration welcomes, including members of the Democratic Congress.

"Soon, perhaps the Iron Dome will protect American troops in Iraq and elsewhere. Countries much closer to the United States are included in the visa waiver program, so Israel should have been there a long time ago."

Has the administration been persuaded to give up the opening of a consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem?

"My impression is that the administration has not yet given up on this issue. The issue has been raised in almost every meeting I have had with its representatives. They repeatedly explain that this is the president's commitment. "The solution to the dispute, but at the moment there is no way out. Indeed, there can be disagreements within the family as well, but they are not supposed to affect or affect the entire relationship."

"There are in-depth discussions on Iran"

For almost a year, you have been involved in the dialogue between Israel and the United States on the issue of Iran. Do the Americans not understand that Iran is thriving and galloping?


In this assessment, I do not think there is a gap between Israel and the US or others in the West. The gap concerns the question of what is the most effective way to stop them, and here there is a deep disagreement.

"We think that only if Iran sees a significant and credible military threat is there a chance that this threat will not be needed and perhaps a stronger, longer and broader agreement can be reached, as the administration aspires. On the other hand, the Americans think the first step should be harnessing the international community. And do it way back to the old agreement - a step we see as a mistake.

"The positive side is that there is a disillusionment with the Americans in two things and they accepted our position. Today they also estimate that the chances of an agreement with Iran are very low. If a year ago they gave an 80 percent chance of a return agreement, today it is maybe 20 percent. The current one actually accepts Israel's position from 2015 that the original nuclear agreement was not good.The team currently managing Iran is the team that operated in 2015.

"They say the JCPOA (the agreement signed during the Obama era; etc.) needs to be improved, which means it was not good enough.

When they declare that a new agreement needs to be reached with Iran which is Longer, Broader, Stronger, stronger, broader and longer term, it is a mistaken admission that the agreement signed then was not enough.

If an extension of the agreement is required, tighter enforcement mechanisms and an expansion of the issues covered by the agreement - it means that it was not good enough.

There is no other way to explain it.

"Maybe in 2021 they understand things they did not understand in 2015, but it does not really matter."

If so, what are they going to do in case there is no agreement?

What is the alternative plan?

"I do not want to speak on their behalf, but the in-depth discussions with them are taking place."

China - a complex issue.

Biden and Xi Jinping // Photo: Reuters,

A change in the Palestinian issue?

Was an Israeli commitment to work in complete coordination with the United States, or not to act unilaterally when it comes to Iran?

"Has long been accepted that each operational activity to areas that the US has meant to them, Israel try to update as much as possible in advance. Specific to your question, what I I was exposed to him during my time as ambassador, I do not know the stipulation that says Israel has limited itself. "

When this administration started its way it had low expectations on the Palestinian issue. Do you think this is something that is about to change? Is a political process or pressure on Israel to withdraw?

"I do not think that is what it will be. There are issues that we do not see eye to eye, such as construction in Judea and Samaria or aid to UNRWA without conditioning it on anti - incitement reforms. But when it comes to the agreement, President Biden is sober, and from day one the talk "They also understand the quality of life of the Palestinians. They also understand the Hamas issue in Gaza and the danger that if there are elections in Judea and Samaria, Hamas will win there as well."

Do you think it is possible for more countries to join the Abrahamic Accords? Are there contacts that are about to succeed?

“The Abrahamic Agreements are a prime example of a policy that the administration has adopted despite the political polarization in the United States. They had hesitations and they were also criticized in Congress. Despite this the administration continued, did not jeopardize the Abrahamic agreements and did not go back in terms of the permutations the Trump administration gave.

"Over time, they have stepped up efforts to annex more countries, and leverage their influence on significant Muslim countries that have no ties with Israel, to achieve more peace agreements. "Perhaps unlike in the beginning, the administration is investing in it more deeply and at more senior levels."


Is this an issue you put in the group of controversial issues between us and the administration?

"The issue of China has indeed become very complex to deal with for Israel. Because China is an economic, desirable and legitimate partner, offering cheap and fast work, and what's more, there are not many companies, including American ones, competing for the big projects being built in the country.

" In the US China is a danger and a strategic threat to the US.

And there is also a problem with human rights.

It is therefore very important for the administration that allies including Israel will make a clear choice.

One of the most significant challenges for Ambassador Herzog and the government will be how to navigate here.

"It is clear to everyone that the United States is for us a first and most important priority. On the other hand, we are not an empire that can give up any connection with an economic power like China."

"Biden loves Israel"

Arden took office as ambassador to Washington on January 20, 21, the first day of the Biden administration's tenure, after four years of a super-sympathetic administration during the Trump era, and eight more difficult years during the Obama administration. Asked how he characterizes the administration's attitude toward Israel, he says: "The Biden administration has announced in advance that the Middle East is not its top priority, but the struggle in Corona, the economy, climate warming and China. But we want the US active in the Middle East, and I have made great efforts So that the Middle East will be higher in the attention of the administration.

"Many of the actions we have taken, including meetings with influential Democrats in the party, are intended to preserve bipartisan support, which is a strategic asset. In this context, we have a significant challenge among minorities and the younger generation in the party. President Biden may have a different approach than Trump. "Loves Israel with all his heart. In meetings with him I heard him talk at length about what he heard in his father's house about the treatment of Israel. Does that mean you see everything eye to eye? Absolutely not. There are gaps in worldviews, there are changes in society and everything radiates on the political system."

You talked about bipartisan support. Are the anti-Israel currents strengthening in the Democratic Party? Only recently has a black, democratic and pro-Israel leader been elected mayor of New York, as have other places.

"Support for Israel among the Democrats is something that needs to be worked on hard. The mainstream of the party was and still is supportive of Israel. We saw this in voting for an Iron Dome, for example. But that does not mean resting on laurels. 4 to 12. They have influences on the minorities and the young.

"Unfortunately, the Palestinians joined the 'Considered Black Life' movement, as if blacks and Palestinians were experiencing the same story. There is no connection between the cases but they still succeeded. Because of this background, my first trip as an ambassador across the United States was to the southern United States, to "learn and know the story of the African-American community."

Not only the government has changed but also our government. You are a veteran political actor who was a member of a rival party to the components of the current government, and it is clear that it will also return to the political arena. How can you represent a government that your party actually opposes?

"Because of the complexity of the situation, I decided to give up the job in Washington, and I announced this on my own initiative to Prime Minister Bennett. The ambassador's job in Washington is a political appointment and requires personal trust with the prime minister and secretary of state.

" "At the UN, however, there is really no change in the political context. The defense of Israel is on a more general level. As ambassador to the UN, I do not represent every government minister and every MK in the coalition, but central and agreed issues, and of course do so in coordination."

Still, you are a political man, working in front of people who have been and may be political opponents. It does not bother?

"Labor relations are normal, we are business people. It is true that in the past I was elected public and politician, but I made a conscious decision to go for a certain period to the international political track. I act state-wise. And experience also taught me Therefore, I worked in coordination with Foreign Minister Lapid to prevent the participation of maximum countries in the Durban conference. And if the prime minister has to speak at the UN - my perception is that Israeli citizens should want the speech to be as convincing as possible. My role is to represent the good of the country. At the moment, I feel that I have the ability to defend the positions of the State of Israel. If there are ideological gaps I will think whether to continue or not. At this stage, I do not feel such gaps. "

What is the plan for the future in the political arena? When there are primary elections in the Likud, will you return to Israel to run?

"I chose to serve Israel during these years in the international arena. When I left, I took into account all the implications, including the fact that there will be political risks. But today I am focused only on defending Israel at the UN, presenting its beautiful face, and I do not know about the future."

Finally, in a way that has not been the case for decades, she has held two positions as ambassador to the United Nations and Washington. There was criticism of various kinds. In retrospect, was it right to take both positions?

" I am not saying that this is always true, but rather that one should see the circumstances and who was charged with it. The most important asset we have at the UN is American support, and this administration has prioritized a number of issues that are directly related to what is happening at the UN.

"The experience and familiarity with living and being active in both arenas helped me, including during the Wall Guard era. When I first had to build the relationship with the new administration, I discussed with them the same issues I talked to with the US Ambassador to the UN and its representatives. Maybe someone else had a harder time, and sorry I'm talking about myself, but I've been familiar with the issues from my experience as a minister and as a cabinet member for ten years, whether it's the Hague tribunal or other issues. So in my case, that was true. " 

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2021-11-26

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