02/01/2009

Gaza or the lack of concern of the international community for peace

Besides the lack of precedent of the Israeli operation upon Gaza and the human tragedy it causes, besides the predictable weak reactions of the international community, which are almost caricatures, the relentless Israeli intervention in Gaza is also a stop to hopes conveyed by the recent regional initiatives in the Near East. Indeed, the Israeli government did not hesitate to endanger the ongoing diplomatic negotiations and the regional balance by attacking Gaza, scoring in fact the consequences of this intervention in the long term.

The plan for Israeli-Syrian peace, supported by Turkey, had led to believe in a possible resolution of the issue of the Golan and had embodied a « return of Syria » in the « concert of nations. » These negotiations have become obsolete since Saturday. Moreover, if Israel does not only have friends in the Middle East, It has nevertheless peaceful relations with Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, guaranteeing some stability. However, besides the demonstrations against Israel in these countries and the growing fear of a mass influx of Palestinians at the borders, requests from parliamentarians to expel Israeli ambassadors have increased.

Another regional hope endangered by the Israeli operation: the Union for the Mediterranean. If the meeting of representatives from the whole Mediterranean basin including Israel had been called a miracle, gathering in the same institution Israel and its Arab neighbours will be more complicated and the young Union for the Mediterranean will have to cope with a state of war.
Tzipi Livni was in Paris on January 1st to reiterate the Israeli rejection of the EU and the Quartet’s proposal. This proves that Europe has no influence on Israel, despite the recent negotiations for the improvement of EU / Israel relations. Indeed, one of the arguments for such a process was the lever that would allow the EU to influence what it called the « peace camps », which would be a pro- negotiations Israeli administration. This strategy has failed. In its search for influence, the EU could have had some on Hamas if it had agreed with its recognition as an interlocutor, rather than turn its back. All that Europe can or wants to afford nowadays is to play a spectator part, between its calls for calm and the European and French consulting missions to the Middle East, in parallel to the disconcerting inertia of the international community.

“Where is the Arab army? » claimed demonstrators in Alexandria while Mr. Kaddafi castigated the « coward and defeatist » reactions of the Arab countries towards the Israeli offensive. The Arab League is scheduled to meet in Doha on Friday. Facing a unanimous Arab public opinion, the League may either lead to a summit “to play a  record which has been broken for many years  » as the Libyan leader said, or show a » surge » and make itself heard by the international community which remains deaf to calls from the members of the League. If this is a humanitarian tragedy and a further failure of the peace process, the current situation in Gaza also represents the failure and the lack of will of all regional and international organizations to count in the region.

Luce Ricard