By Arab News
Donald Trump’s upcoming administration plans to set up a coalition with the GCC, Jordan and Egypt to support counter-terrorism efforts, Walid Phares, one of the US president-elect’s foreign policy advisers has confirmed.
The new US leader will also “review” the Iran nuclear agreement, but will stop short of ripping up the landmark international deal, Phares said on Friday.
Phares, who was speaking to BBC Radio on Thursday, gestured that Trump might not move the US Embassy to Jerusalem immediately and indicated he would make negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a priority right off the bat.
Phares added that the nuclear deal, which Trump has pledged to scrap during his election campaign, would instead be renegotiated with Tehran.
“Ripping up is maybe a too strong of word, he’s gonna take that agreement; it’s been done before in international context, and then review it,” a CNN recording of the interview quoted Phares as saying.
“He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore a few issues or change a few issues, and there will be a discussion,” Phares added.
“It could be a tense discussion but the agreement as is right now — $750 billion to the Iranian regime without receiving much in return and increasing intervention in four countries — that is not going to be accepted by the Trump administration.”
“We must enforce the terms of the previous deal to hold Iran totally accountable. And we will enforce it like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before, folks, believe me,” he said on an occasion while meeting with his supporters.
On Thursday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner warned that nothing was stopping Trump from tearing up the agreement, responding to comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that the pact was enshrined by the UN Security Council and could therefore not be canceled by one government.
Phares also told the BBC that while Trump was committed to moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as other presidential candidates have vowed, he would not do so unilaterally.
“Many presidents of the US have committed to do that, and he said as well that he will do that, but he will do it under consensus,” Phares said.
During the campaign, Trump called Jerusalem “the eternal capital” of Israel and said he was “100 percent for” moving the embassy there.
Earlier Thursday, Trump Israel adviser Jason Dov Greenblatt told Israel’s Army Radio that the president-elect would make good on his promise.
“I think if he said it, he’s going to do it,” Greenblatt said.
“He is different for Israel than any recent president there has been, and I think he’s a man who keeps his word. He recognizes the historical significance of the Jewish people to Jerusalem, unlike, say, UNESCO.”
The US Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, but allowed the president a waiver. Each president since then has routinely exercised the waiver, citing the national security interests of the US, despite repeated campaign promises.
Phares also indicated efforts for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would be a top priority item for Trump, casting doubt on a claim by Greenblatt that Trump would not necessarily prioritize trying to push the Israelis and Palestinians into peace negotiations.
“He is ready and he will immediately move to try and solve the problem between Palestinian and Israelis,” Phares said.
“He told me personally that, as the author of ‘The Art of the Deal,’ it’s not going to be impossible for him to broker a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. At least he’s going to go in that direction and not waste eight years — four years for now — not doing something for the Palestinians and Israelis.”