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Friday, August 25, 2006

Italian foreign minister criticizes Israel, US

In an interview with HaAretz, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema was critical of what he characterized as the "too harsh" American - Israeli approach to the Middle East. I guess D'Alema thinks that we should just give the 'Palestinians' a state reichlet and that will solve all of the world's problems.
D'Alema said that America's aggressive approach to the Middle East, which Israel shares, has failed, and has caused serious damage. Now, he said, Italy and Europe must prove to Israelis that only international intervention can bring them security.

D'Alema is considered the driving force behind Italy's decision to contribute 3,000 soldiers to a beefed-up UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), thereby making it the largest western contributor to the force. [Fwance has now agreed to provide 2,000 troops . CiJ]

But the Italian foreign minister, who met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Rome on Thursday, said that the multinational force can only help the government of Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah. This matter "essentially depends" solely on the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, he said, and will certainly not be done through force.

He also claimed that it would be "simplistic" to describe Hezbollah solely as a terrorist organization. "Were Hezbollah merely a small terrorist group, it would not enjoy the support of so many Lebanese," he said. "Even Tzipi Livni says that if Hezbollah becomes a political organization, this will be a success, and I agree with her." [Tzippy Livni knows nothing about diplomacy. She is largely to blame for UN Security Council Resolution 1701. CiJ]

D'Alema is president of the Democrats of the Left, and was also a senior figure in the party's earlier incarnation as the Communist Party. Many on the Italian right and in Italy's Jewish community view the party as hostile to Israel, particularly in view of the great support that Israel received from former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Italian foreign minister's views are clearly not supportive of the Israeli government. Nevertheless, he expressed concern for Israel during the interview.

"We are sending our soldiers to Lebanon and endangering their lives out of love for Israel. We have no interests in Lebanon; this is supposed to be a step that creates peace. And that is in Israel's interest," D'Alema said.

D'Alema said that it is still unclear whether Italy will head the bolstered UNIFIL, but it is already clear that it will be a leading contributor with its 3,000 soldiers. The decision to deploy the force enjoys overwhelming support among the Italian public, and in the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, it won across-the-board support.


What, in your view, would be considered a success for the multinational force in Lebanon?

"Success would be the active presence of international and European diplomacy in the region, a presence that has been missing for many years. Europe has not counted for too much in the Middle East, and Israel has always related to it suspiciously. The Arabs thought that Europe hands out money, but for the important things, one must turn to the Americans. If, with the assistance of a UN and European presence, a positive process begins in Lebanon - the country is stabilized and the fundamentalist threat is removed from Israel's borders - that will show people in Israel that the international community can be efficient, that Europe can be efficient. Such a process would prove to Israel that it can ensure its security better through the politics of peace than through war. The main problem is that in Israeli politics, peace and security are two different, often contradictory things."

And the current crisis proved, in your view, that the U.S. on its own cannot guarantee such security?

"This is obvious to me. The American policy, which Israel also supported, created an impossible situation. Just a few years ago, they foretold the demise of the UN. I recall that on the day Baghdad fell, Richard Perle wrote that along with Baghdad, the UN also fell. The thinking was that it is possible to control the world via the power of a hegemonic liberal power. This philosophy has created serious damage, and now the U.S. is looking for a logical way out."

D'Alema disagrees with Israel's description of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization: "An organization that has 35 members of parliament and three ministers cannot be described solely as a terrorist group. Hezbollah is not considered a terrorist group by the European Union, nor in my personal view. Hezbollah is a military organization, but also a force that participates in elections. The paradox is that we support Siniora, a democratic leader, and Siniora lauds Hezbollah as the defender of the Lebanese homeland. It is important to understand the complexity of the situation, because if you have a simplistic view of the enemy, you deal with him incorrectly."
Stunningly naive, isn't he? Either that, or more likely, he just doesn't want to see the truth about 'democracy' in the Arab world.


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