Want peace? Be ready for war: Trend News commentator

Politics Materials 10 June 2009 15:46 (UTC +04:00)

Trend Middle East Desk Commentator Ulviyya Sadikhova

Immediately following Barack Obama's Cairo speech, the U.S. Special Envoy on Middle East George Mitchell's visit to the region dotted "i's" and crossed "t's" in Obama's Middle East plans: the United States will never sacrifice the union with Israel for a dialogue with the Arab world.

Starting his third official visit as a special envoy in the region with Israel, Mitchell opened his first news conference by saying: "The United States and Israel will remain old friends and allies. The security of Israel is above all for the United States. Therefore, the deterioration of relations is out of the question. It seems he just could not speak clearly, it is clear, the status does not allow. After such public statements by Mitchell, which should embody Obama's promises on settlements in the Middle East, the U.S.'s "Napoleonic plans" are similar to waxwork.

President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo on beginning of a new era in the relations of Muslims and the United States was assumed by the Arab world as "advent of new promised Mahdi", as it was mentioned in some Arab media, and the starting point in resolving the Palestinian question.

However, while the Muslim world designed a new plan to solve the Palestinian problem, basing on Obama's speech, the U.S. and Israel, not wasting time in vain, began to negotiate new compromises in the main problem of the Palestine problem. First, the current stumbling block in peace negotiations - is the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank of the Jordan River. The issue reached a climax when, at the first meeting in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama categorically refused Israel's offer to reconsider the position in the construction of Jewish settlements, and demanded the immediate freezing of the construction. The Arab world assessed this as Obama's first step in improving relations with Muslims and the beginning of work over George Bush Administration's mistakes. But, apparently, the Arabs are not destined to enjoy a long time

While at the Cairo University, Obama urged Israel to halt any construction, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated the suspension of settlement expansion and willingness of Israel and the United States to find an alternative way to solve this problem. That is, the construction is suspended but not terminated. However, nobody thought of the alternative, because the Arabs do not see any compromise in solving the issue of settlement construction in the place where a long-awaited Palestinian State must be restored. But you can see that Obama's spirited and frank speech with quoting ayats of the Quran so blinded the Arab world that it missed one point: Obama is not the first, who are demanding the cessation of settlement construction. This issue is one of the most pressing and complicated issues in the peace and was examined 16 years ago during signing the Oslo Agreement. Israel regards construction of settlements as means of solving the demographic problem, so after 10 years, the "Road Map" demanded cessation of any construction.

United States, one of the major mediators of truce, supported the item in all agreements. That is why Obama only rephrased his predecessors, but did not indicate how to stop the construction of settlements, which are home to many Israeli officials, including Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. For Israel to abandon the construction of settlements in the United States means to surrender personal interests in the negotiations with the Arabs, who had hoped that the issue of settlements will mark a turning point in cooperation between United States and Israel.

But his speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Obama has started as Mitchell: U.S. and Israeli relations remain unchanged, thus giving the green light to the Netanyahu government not to deviate from their interests in the region. At the end of the week Netanyahu in a speech at Begin-Sadat political center, one of the major political centers of Israel, will disclose plans for Israel's peace negotiations, and of course, how to address the issue of settlements. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu will talk about alternatives to the issue of Jewish settlements.

That is, it turns out that the U.S. could agree to this compromise if a plan of the Israeli prime minister is supported? In this case, the possibility of improved relations with the Arabs becomes minimal. The efforts of Arab diplomacy in the Palestinian question are focused on the return of 4 million Palestinian refugees living in different parts of the Arab world. Therefore, the inability to stop the expansion of Jewish settlements concerns Arabs, for whom the Palestinian refugee camps often become the center of political turmoil.

So, Obama's strategy on the prospects of truce in the Middle East was only a warm-up, if not delay the time until Israel revises plan how to preserve their interests, without losing Washington's support.
However, it is interesting that the U.S. president has a new vogue for politicians in the Middle East: a declaration of intention to make a speech, where all maps will be disclosed. The Arabs, too, decided not to lag behind, and followed the example of Obama and the United States: the head of Hamas politburo Khaled Mashaal made a similar speech on Sunday, which also revealed the future strategy of the Palestinian movement. It is not clear about what strategy we can speak, when Hamas said it will not renounce armed resistance to Israel until the occupation ceased and blockade of the Gaza Strip is lifted.

Everything remains the same in the peace process. Obama made a beautiful start, but it is clear that the current U.S. administration will not be able to walk until the end. It is not excluded that the Arabs and Israelis will be witnessing a new war instead of truce. Defense Minister Barak has hinted that the Israeli army must prepare for operations not only in Gaza, but on several points, where Lebanon and Syria may enter. Penetration of Iran with the help of Hamas and Hezbollah in Arab politics annoys Israel and the United States. Given that the Palestinians and Israelis have not yet reach agreement with words, is not excluded that the arms again take the upper hand in the intricate politics of the Middle East.