A few days before the Israeli election the German Middle East expert, Günter Meyer, expressed fears that Europe’s influence in the Middle East was waning. Specifically, he thought, Israel was not in the mood to listen to the soothing tones of Europe.
Post-election Israeli politics is likely to confirm this trend. Whatever coalition Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will put together, one thing is clear: the new government wants to create stable borders for Israel by negotiation if possible, unilaterally, if not.
Negotiation is not possible with someone who does not even acknowledge your right to exist.
Negotiation, as it happens, was not possible with the late unlamented Chairman Arafat, who suddenly pulled out of the talks in 2000 and launched the second intifada, allegedly because he could not get the last 3 per cent of his demands but, in reality, to preserve his own power over the unfortunate Palestinian people.
Herr Meyer seems unable to recognize any of this and his interview demonstrates reasonably clearly why Europe’s influence might, indeed, be waning.
There might be another reason for this sad development. After a great deal of huffing and puffing about Hamas and not recognizing the government it forms, unless it agrees to give up on terrorism and acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, it appears that France has started secret negotiations with the new Palestinian Authority “on behalf of the European Union”.
This was confirmed by a Hamas official, according to the Jerusalem Post and not much denied by the French ambassador.
The EU has continued to fund the Palestinian Authority and various other organizations in order “not to punish the Palestinian people”. One wonders at this miracle of infantilization, so widely spread across the entire international community.
It is as if the Palestinians were all two-year old children, who were not really responsible for what was happening in their country. Thus, the fact that they elected an extreme terrorist organization to be their government was not really their fault and they must not be punished for it.
And now, various countries are holding talks with them, with France negotiating on “our” behalf. High on the agenda, no doubt, will be financial arrangements.