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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Calling Europe's bluff

Hillel Halkin has an article in the New York Sun, with which I largely disagree. Halkin says that American influence in the Middle East is waning, while Europe's is increasing (possible), that the first six years, which were a golden period in US-Israel relations have been wasted (true, but not for the reasons that he says), and that time is not in Israel's favor (may not be true - look how many 'Palestinians' are leaving in frustration). But at the end, he suggests something that is a good idea, but which the current government is probably not savvy enough to carry off. He suggests calling Europe's bluff - specifically that of Fwance, Spain and Italy, the three countries that presented a 'peace plan' at the end of last week that did not require that Hamas recognize Israel's 'right to exist.'
It might begin with the new "peace initiative"— and with Lebanon and Iran. Instead of the gruff "no thank you" given by Foreign Minister Livni, she might have responded: "We welcome the new European initiative. Indeed, we would like to explore it further. Europe needs to play a major role in helping us to solve our problems with the Palestinians and the rejectionist Arab states. But first, Europe has to demonstrate to us that it is dependable. It already has a role in Lebanon that it isn't fulfilling. It already has a stated policy of stopping Iranian nuclearization that it isn't carrying out. As much as we might like to, we can't consider giving it new roles — a European version of UNIFIL in the Gaza Strip, for instance, such as some European diplomats have suggested — until it does better with the obligations it already has. Show us that it can meet them and we'll be receptive to more."
The problem with this approach is how to measure whether Europe is fulfilling its obligations. And how to rely upon the continuing dependability of a continent that is coming more and more within the Muslim sphere of influence.


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