Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Whither Middle East Peace Process?

US President Barack Obama, during his maiden visit to the Middle East in May 2009, delivered an important speech in the Egyptian capital -- Cairo. In that address, Obama said that Israel would have to suspend the construction of its legal settlements on the Palestinian lands on the West Bank for the restart of Arab-Israel peace talks. Almost instantly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had rejected the proposal of the US President. The Israeli prime minister said that the building of the settlements was suspended for one year that means up to September 2009 during the tenure of President George W. Bush and after expiry of the timeframe Israel will again start the construction. President Osama had to withstand that insult silently. It had become clear that the Fatah party government of Palestine would not sit for peace talks unless Israel stopped building settlements.
Arab-Israel Conflicts
Since then, Israel has established a good number of new illegal settlement areas on the West Bank and the captured East Jerusalem and built several thousands of structures on the Palestinian lands. Rather arrogant and aggressive Netanyahu and his government blamed the Palestinians for the capture of lands. The argument of the Israeli government was the Palestinians are divided, among them the HAMAS is determined to eliminate the existence of Israel, so no peace talks are possible with them. As the United States and European Union (EU) have recognized HAMAS as terrorist so the plea of Israel is acceptable to them. In the internal politics Obama has earned the wrath of the US capitalist over his national health bill. And his popularity was nosedived.
In addition, Obama did not get enough opportunity to think over the Middle East as he lost majority in the Congress in the midterm polls. Moreover, he will have to seek votes in November 2012 to become the US President for the second term. Obama knows it very well that it will not be possible for him to win the election by annoying the 'most powerful' Israeli lobbies in the US. And as a result, he prefers keeping mum on the issue of Arab-Israel conflicts.
Unexpected Address
President Obama on 19 May gave a completely unexpected statement at the US Department of State. He had definitely an intention of revising to some extent the present anti-US policy in the Middle East. At the beginning of the so-called 'Arab autumn' process the US seemed to be against the trend. But as the development began going out of the control of the US policy Washington welcomed the revolution in Tunisia and Egypt one after another. But in other places the United States is still lagging behind the pace of developments. Washington was in a dilemma for a long time regarding the mass upsurge in Yemen and Syria. Huge criticisms were raised in the US over mysterious indifference of the Obama administration to sending of Saudi Arabian troops to quell rebellion in Bahrain.
In his State Department address, Obama made attempts to minimize those criticisms. He said: 'The US welcomes those changes that expand the scopes for self determination and opportunities- there should not be any doubt about it. For many decades we have been admitting the no change in situation of this region or the Middle East, but now we have gotten the chance of following the path through which the world could advance in the right direction.'
Obama in that address further said that the basis of the Arab-Israeli crisis would be a 'secured Israel' and on the basis of an independent Palestinian state, and the borders of the two states will be along the demarcation line that was before the 1967 war. But Obama said that some changes along the common borders here and there were possible on the basis of mutual understanding.
On 2 May, the US commandoes swooped on a residence at Abbottabad in Pakistan and killed Usama Bin Ladin. Since then popularity of Obama has jumped high repeatedly. The US President might have thought that he would implement his 2009 Cairo address riding on this popularity. Besides, he might have realized that Israel has been using the peace talks with the Palestinian as a technique of killing time and the crisis will no be solved this way. Now he is thinking over the 2002 Saudi proposal. In that Saudi proposal it was stipulated that the borders of Palestine and Israel will be fixed along the demarcation line of 1967 and all Arab states will recognize Israel simultaneously.
Bad Tempered Dialogue
The US foreign policy is not determined in Washington. This is determined in Israel and the Israelis secure this control by dint of the strength of the Israeli lobbies in the United States. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was scheduled meet the US President in Washington on the following day of the speech of Obama. Prior to his departure for Washington, Netanyahu announced that the 1967 borderline was not acceptable to Israel. He said that the ground realities have under gone many changes (because of illegal Israeli settlements) since 1967 and those changes cannot be ruled out. In other words, he said that the Jews (those came from Europe) had the right to build settlements in the areas where they have settlements during the Bible era that means in entire Palestine.
The Jewish people in the United States could hardly be one-thirtieth of the total population. But in pursuance of Zionist conspiracy, they have taken control of the US politics, economy, and media. Of them, the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most powerful group. It being said that no bill in the US Congress could be passed without approval from the AIPAC. Obama might have thought that he will be able to create influence by addressing the AIPAC conference. The AIPAC conference silently heard the speech of Obama. But when the US President referred to the 1967 borderline they raised voice in unison to condemn him. To pacify the anger, President Obama was compelled to announce that the United States will oppose the Arab proposal in the UN General Assembly in September 2011 for giving recognition to the Palestinian state.
Netanyahu also addressed the AIPAC conference. In his address, the Israeli Prime Minister said that the 1967 borderline was not acceptable to his country for security reasons. He had again referred to the Jewish settlements in the Bibal area. And it is needless to mention that the address of Netanyahu was welcome amid repeated clapping from the audience. Netanyahu has again demanded that as a condition for establishing peace Israel must have to be recognized as a Jewish state. His proposal means forfeiting the birth right of the Palestinians, expelled from Israel, in returning to their homeland, which the United Nations accepted for many times. The proposal will give Israel the liberty of expelling nearly 2 million Palestinian from that country. The Palestinian will accept the proposal.
On 24 May, Netanyahu was more cordially greeted in the joint session of the two houses of the US Congress than the AIPAC conference. During his address to the House, both the Republican and Democrat members of the Congress gave him standing ovation 18 times. By this time, Obama and Netanyahu held face to face meeting in the White House. According to available information, their discussions were exciting and bad tempered.
Split in Western Alliance
However, Obama was given rousing receptions during his visit to Irish Republic and the United Kingdom. He earned the rare distinction of addressing the joint session of the British Parliament in Westminster Hall. Before him no US President was fortunate to address the joint session of the British Parliament. In his address, Obama traditionally raised the Palestinian issue and said: 'We (US and Europe) are united for cause a secured Israel and an Independent Palestinian state.
But Obama knows it better that the Europe is now not united with the United States on the Palestinian issue. Virtually Europe is getting more intolerant with each passing. So long the Arab-Israel issue has been under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. It was true that a quartet was formed on the issue comprising the United Nations, EU, Russia, and the United States. But that quartet was absolutely ineffective. Former US President George W. Bush appointed his cohort in misdeeds -- Tony Blair -- as the representative of that quartet. It seemed from the statements of Tony Blair that protecting interest of Israel was his prime concern. He is going to Jerusalem off and on and Israelis are receiving him very cordially. It being heard that Tony Blair has been benefiting for her relations with Israel.
Now the EU could have realized that the US foreign policy is determined in Tel Aviv, not Washington. And as a result, no just solution of the crisis is possible by the United States. Some of the EU countries believe the Europe now will have to take responsibility from the United States the initiatives of solving the Arab-Israel crisis. Some of the EU countries, including France, have hinted that they are ready to recognize the independence of Palestine if it is unilaterally declared by the Palestinians.
The Europe has some special advantages also. The Israeli lobbies are very active in Europe particularly in France and Germany. But they are yet to become so stronger like the AIPAC in the United States. In addition, the progress of Israeli economy still largely depends on Europe. Israel is enjoying the duty free access to Europe in exporting goods like other EU members. That means Israeli Prime Minister will find no courage to show his red eyes to the Europe the way he has been demonstrating his audacity to hackle the US President. Under the above circumstances, the people, who support an independent Palestinian state inside Israel, will be encouraged.
Recent Development
Meanwhile, a significant change has taken place in the situation of the Middle East. Israel has been successful in laying a siege to Gaza for long four years with active support from the Hosni Mubarak government of Egypt. That the Egyptian Government acting on behalf of the Israeli Administration has closed down the Rafa Crossing on the southern frontier. But a post-revolution Egypt is not ready to act as a guard of Egypt. Egypt opened the Rafa Crossing on 28 May. Most countries in the Middle East are now witnessing mass upsurge. The friends of Israel in Europe believe Israel will be more friendless if 'Arab Autumn' gets perfection. Under the above circumstances, it will be better for Israel to reach a settlement without killing time.
The Arab League, at a meeting in Doha on 22 May, has decided that despite objection from the US they will move a resolution in the UN General Assembly in September for giving recognition to an independent Palestinian state with the border of 1967. That resolution will create very complex situation for the United States. Under pressure from Israel, the United States will try to oppose the resolution. However, most countries in the world are likely to give recognition to the Palestinian state. The public opposition of so many countries will surely hamper the international dignity of the United States.
Only one option has been left for Washington to adopt. The option is supporting the Arab League resolution. If the United States fails, Washington should abstain from voting against the proposal and handover initiatives of resolving the Middle East crisis to the EU.

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