A turning point: The United States has, once again, warned Israel that it will lose its support in the U.N. if it persists in its refusal of a “two-state” solution. U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman announced the warning last Monday before an audience of American Jewish dignitaries. Before her on March 19, White House spokesman Josh Earnest made the same remarks. There is no doubt about it; the warning should be taken seriously.
What Benjamin Netanyahu has done, or wants to pretend he has done, is to react by demanding that the Palestinian Authority “abandon the pact” with Hamas; a condition which, according to him, is necessary for them to be able to “commit to sincere negotiations.” In other words, Netanyahu wants to pretend that he is coming around and agreeing to the demands of the United States. The reality is something entirely different.
Confronted by difficulties in forming a government after the anticipated elections, Netanyahu was forced to ask for a supplementary delay of 15 days. Having designated March 25 as the deadline to do so, he has not succeeded, after a month of negotiations, in finding common ground with the coalition of parties that form the majority. He has until May 7 to achieve this, but he needs time. And it is in this sense that his response to American demands must be understood.
And if on Monday the United States found it necessary to bring up what they have always demanded, this is due to information about secret negotiations between Israel and Hamas, the subject of which was the conclusion of a long-term ceasefire between 10 and 20 years. More simply, Israel is looking, as it always has, to gain the time necessary for its expansionist politics.
For lasting peace, Tel Aviv is proposing a temporary ceasefire. However, the information being broadcast by an Israeli television network does not offer the best conditions for credibility. Israel has always accused the Hamas movement of being an instrument of Iran. It is difficult to see what has so abruptly made this movement “acceptable” in the eyes of the Jewish state. Who could have believed, even for a moment, that once abandoned by the United States, Israel could turn to Iran in negotiating with Hamas.
Whatever it is, whether it be propaganda or not, or political maneuvering or not, it is clear that the goal of the United States’ insistence is to reaffirm its determination to rekindle the peace process; a reminder of the U.S. position that is taking place while France prepares to propose a resolution to the Security Council that would clearly define the principles for a solution to conflict by integrating the Palestinian state’s borders defined in 1967. Such a resolution has every chance of passing if the United States puts its words into action and does not exercise its veto.
If one considers the power struggle (recalled humorously by press correspondents) between Obama and Netanyahu since Israel’s blockage of the peace process and the increasing “chill” in their relations, there is no longer a need to doubt the withdrawal of the United States’ “unconditional support” from which Tel Aviv has, until now, always benefitted. Netanyahu’s difficulty in forming a government starts there.
Many Israelis have understood that the path taken by their prime minister is suicidal. It’s not a matter of hawks or doves, but rather of political realism. The “leak” regarding negotiations with Hamas does not disclose whether Netanyahu demanded that Ismaïl Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, recognize “the Jewish character” of the Israeli nation as he did, recently, with the Palestinian Authority. That said, along with admitting the existence of these “negotiations,” it would be the best indication of panic that Netanyahu could give. He is at the point of negotiating with a political party. And no longer state to state!