Last Sunday, the British newspaper The Times published an interview with Jordan's King Abdullah II, in which the maturing king demonstrated a deft touch in putting pressure both on the new prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and on President Barack Obama.
The king's comments -- coming about two weeks after his Washington visit with our president, one day after his visit with the pope, and about one week before Prime Minster Netanyahu's Washington visit with Obama -- put heavy geopolitical pressure on Israel while simultaneously maximizing President Obama's personal stakes in the success or failure of this newest Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative:
"(President Obama) feels the urgency of the need to move today. … So this is a critical moment. … What we are talking about is not Israelis and Palestinians sitting at the table, but Israelis sitting with Palestinians, Israelis sitting with Syrians, Israelis sitting with Lebanese. And with the Arabs and the Muslim world lined up to open direct negotiations with Israelis at the same time. … That is not a two-state solution; it is a 57-state solution.
"That is the tipping point that shakes up Israeli politicians and the Israeli public. … We are saying to the Israelis that this is an issue that is far bigger than you Israelis and the Palestinians. This is where I think the Obama administration gets it. I am very, very concerned about having a conference in six months' time and another one in a year's time. That doesn't work. …
"The critical juncture will be what comes out of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting. If there is procrastination by Israel on the two-state solution or there is no clear American vision for how this is going to play out in 2009, then all the tremendous credibility that Obama has worldwide and in this region will evaporate overnight if nothing comes out in May. All eyes will be looking to Washington in May. If there are no clear signals and no clear directives to all of us, then there will be a feeling that this is just another American government that is going to let us all down."
Note how shrewdly the king has tried to weight the scales for President Obama. Our president is in the middle of what he has described as one of his important personal policy objectives as president: to reach out to the Muslim world and rectify relations between it and the United States. To that end, he already has spoken on an international Arab television network and before the Turkish Parliament, and next month, he will go to Egypt for a major address to the Arab and Muslim people.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.