With the passage of time, Israel’s feelings about its Muslim neighbors are worsening. There is increasing confrontation with Turkey and an American prohibition regarding attack on Iran. Israel continues to have dialogue with Jordan, which is generally considered to be a weak opponent.
However, what has most deteriorated is dialogue with the United States and the European Union. While the E.U. is still stuck in an existential crisis, it continues to be Palestine’s greatest benefactor. Without European money, the hope of all Palestinians would have vanished many years ago.
Israel has not been perceived as being so close to war since 1990. Avigdor Lieberman, the ultra right Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government coalition, is talking about being close to war in their party meetings. More flexible, but also tougher, is Ehud Barak, Israeli Minister of Defense, representing the Labor Party and the military reserve. And the list could be extended.
The United Stated and the European Union have distanced themselves from Israel. The quartet composed of Russia, the U.N., the U.S. and the E.U. is tiring. Unconditional American support and the mostly conditional support of the E.U. are not at the same levels they used to be. Netanyahu has provoked the U.S. to an arm-wrestling competition by continuing to build new settlements in Jerusalem. Israel will lose the contest.
On its side, Europe has always played an important role in peace projects. During the time Javier Solana was the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union (1999-2009), he and his team represented a faction supporting the ceaseless process of producing peace expectations and confrontations with the enemies of peace; not only in diplomatic matters, but also in the strategic, economic, and political arenas.
Today, European involvement has dropped to minimum levels. Catherine Ashton, the new Vice President of the European Commission (2010-14), has entered into, and continues to be in, a stage of reflection since Christmas, and most likely will continue to be in such a stage throughout summer.
The Israeli imagination, always afflicted by suspicion, is in an alert stage. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are under the control of America. However, another confrontation in the Middle East could be uncontrollable.
The vast conflict zones in Jordan and in Kashmir share a common ground: Iran. The United States is attentively using all of its surveillance methods: spacial, aerial and, and on-the-ground military intelligence. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and United States National Security Adviser General James Jones do not get much rest.
The Russia-U.N.-U.S.-E.U. quartet has ended up being a failure, especially since Tony Blair started being part of its management team. It is notable what things an experienced prime minister cannot do when he decides to be idle in a position full of responsibilities.
Today, the scene seems motionless, similar to John Ford’s movies, where the only sound comes from crickets while the cowboys are waiting seated in a bar.
Netanyahu has stated multiple times that a Palestine state is not possible today or tomorrow. Syria seems to be firm in reaching its agenda for the return of Golan, under Israeli power since 1967. The inexplicable Saudi support for Syria is a mystery, but Syria does have such a support. Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon has declared that “We pay the price for defending U.S. values in this area.”
We are far past Oslo’s peace times. The enormous advance that was achieved at Oslo demonstrated that there was a possibility for a true peace for the conflict that started in 1948. Let’s remember that two experienced leaders on a mission in Madrid, who were involved in Oslo, Shamuel Hadas and Shlomo Ben Ami, are both missing: the former died in a hospital accident and the latter semi-exiled in Spain. The value of the negotiations is decreasing.
Avigdor Lieberman's position is ascending. Today, we are pretending that everything is going well. However, nothing is going well in the Middle East. Israel has never felt so threatened and Palestine has never felt so forgotten. Among the outlooks for the future, today’s is the worst.