Middle East Summit in Paris Featured

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Neither Israel nor the Palestinians were invited to the summit...

Dear Friends of Israel,

MES ParisAfter the unexpected changes in the coalition government, arranged by Prime Minister Netanyahu, the media in Israel has practically been consumed with analyzing everything behind the changes and expansion. During this process, it was learned that the government in Jerusalem was more concerned about the June 3, Middle East Summit in Paris than they were officially admitting; a summit at which the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations were represented, along with other important participants.

At the summit, possibilities were discussed for reopening the peace process, which is apparently stuck right now. The greatest fear in Jerusalem is obviously the chance that Israel could be pushed into a forcibly arranged peace agreement. In order to prevent that, Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to have taken the initiative to strengthen the coalition government.

The addition of the six-member Yisrael-Beitenu Party, led by Avigdor Lieberman, carried the condition that he be named as the Defense Minister. That of course meant that he took the place of the generally well-liked Moshe Ya’alon, who was decidedly against a two-state solution and therefore opposed to having any of these sorts of discussions with the Palestinians.

In contrast, Lieberman has advocated for talks with the Palestinians and supports the Saudi Peace Initiative, even though he is mostly known for his right-leaning convictions. It’s unclear exactly how that sort of position should be understood, but it does leave the door open to a two-state solution and takes the wind out of the sails of those who say that Israel doesn’t really want a Palestinian state.

Another reason for expanding the coalition government was likely the position of the Beit-Hayehudi Party within the coalition, which advocates for the annexation of the Israeli-controlled Area C on the Palestinian West Bank. If that should happen, it would mean the end of any chance at forming a Palestinian state and would make it clear to the world that Israel is against that solution.

It remains to be seen whether Netanyahu and Lieberman will now seriously work toward an agreement with the Palestinians and support the founding of a Palestinian state. If that were truly the case and there actually was some movement in that direction, then it would collapse the current coalition government, because Naftali Bennett and his Beit-Hayehudi Party, as well as several others, would likely exit the coalition. In that event, however, Netanyahu could reach out to the Labor Party, which supports such a development.

Therefore, during the recent expansion of the coalition, Netanyahu also invited the Labor Party to join. Many are distrustful though, because they suspect it is all just a play in a game of chess, to show the world that although Israel wants peace, when it fails—as it always has in the past—it’s the fault of the Palestinians because they—as always in the past—are the perpetual naysayers.

Concerned about the negative decisions that could possibly be made at the Paris summit, Israel petitioned the United States to use its influence in ways that would favor Israel. After the past failures at restarting the peace process, though, it’s questionable whether the United States will defend the position of Israel, which is becoming less believable due to the ongoing construction of the settlements.

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians were invited to the summit, which is undoubtedly a signal that nothing positive could have been expected by their participation. Is it possible that the meeting in Paris is intended to cause the international community to develop a common position and set common guidelines for the way in which peace between Israel and the Palestinians must be reached? If that’s the case, then Israel certainly has cause to be concerned.

In the certainty that we needn’t be concerned, because God Himself has the best plan,

Shalom,

FrediWinkler

News From Israel - 07/2016

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