Israel's Challenging Diplomatic Predicament

(Israel Hayom) Dore Gold - In light of developments over the last few years, there has been a growing realization in Israel that the chances of reaching a complete final status agreement with the Palestinians are presently extremely small. This is not just an ideological position coming out of certain quarters in Israel, but it is also the professional view of practitioners who have been involved in the political process itself. Yet there is a push underway to move forward with new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the hope of concluding an agreement between them. British Foreign Secretary William Hague was just in Washington meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry where he called on the Obama administration "to inject the necessary momentum on this issue." There was a diplomatic rumor in January that the Europeans wanted Kerry to put down on the table the parameters of a final settlement before Israel and the Palestinians, including a withdrawal to the 1967 lines. Thus Israel finds itself in a paradoxical situation: just as international pressures are increasing for it to make new concessions in order to restart and advance the political process, there is growing realization in Israel that the kind of final status agreement that the international community is hoping will be concluded is not about to happen. The Palestinian side knows this as well. Some try to make the argument that the conventional military threat to Israel is undergoing a transformation, allowing Israel to make the very sort of new concessions that the Europeans are demanding. With neighboring armies, like that of Syria, involved in domestic upheavals, their conventional forces have been badly degraded. Would that mean that Israel can withdraw from territories that in the past were regarded as vital but whose importance may have changed? This would be an irresponsible conclusion. First of all, the Arab states are likely to build up their conventional armies again in the future once their internal political situation becomes more stable; already Egypt has no problem seeking 200 additional Abrams tanks from the U.S., which will bolster the strength of its armored forces. After all, decisiveness in wars is still a function of the movement of ground armies and their maneuver units, and not through the employment of airpower alone. America's two wars against Iraq proved that point conclusively in 1991 and 2003. The result of all this talk coming out of Europe about getting the U.S. to impose a solution will be completely self-defeating as it hardens the Palestinian readiness to come to the negotiating table - since Israel will be delivered on a silver platter anyway - and makes any real diplomatic progress more difficult than ever. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

2013-02-15 00:00:00

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