This week’s visit by Benjamin Netanyahu to Paris comes amid the best possible regional and international conditions for the prime minister of the Jewish state. He is visiting France at a time in which the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiation track is dead, while the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its president have hit bottom. Israeli settlements are on the rise, and the world is silent. The PA is exhausted, and has lost its credibility, because the peace track, and the wager on a peace plan, has failed. The PA is financially bankrupt, because aid is coming only in dribs and drabs.
The president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, is in an unenviable position. The United States is awaiting its presidential election and is always concerned with Israel first and foremost; it is doing nothing to arrive at a solution. European countries are absorbed in dealing with their deteriorating financial and economic conditions, while the world is busy with finding a way out of the war in Syria, and the end of President Bashar Assad and his regime, while preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear military power. The two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is on the edge of the abyss, while a three-state solution – Israel and two Palestinian statelets in Gaza and the West Bank – is about to come together if things continue as they are.
Abbas warned the world at the United Nations that after the American election on 6 November, he will head to the General Assembly to declare a state. It is a losing gambit, because Abbas can do nothing else. This is because Palestinian conditions have deteriorated as a result of Israeli policy and the world’s abandonment of exerting pressure on the Jewish state, particularly the US, the sponsor of earlier peace negotiation tracks. Abbas’ letter to Obama a few weeks ago was one of despair amid the current conditions. Netanyahu is totally comfortable with these conditions with the PA in such a situation, and division among the Palestinian factions is growing day by day. Moreover, the situation in Syria remains in crisis, as a regime fights its people with no one intervening to stop the killing, while Arab and regional division benefits the Jewish state, which sees Iran and Hezbollah busy in the Syrian arena, trying to protect a regime that is on the verge of collapse. Netanyahu is extremely comfortable as he visits France, because everything is in his favor, and no one can exert pressure on him.
The president of France began his term with extreme caution vis-à-vis the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. Former Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told Al-Hayat that he was sorry to see France’s diplomatic efforts become “ordinary” when it comes to this issue, because it will move France away from playing any role on this front. Netanyahu hopes to see conditions in the Arab world remain the way they are, because everyone will divert their attention to other issues, while Netanyahu is completely comfortable in maintaining his current position. In the west, everyone is afraid of Israel. There is little prospect that Israel will be punished for its policies by the European Union, which has voted on several occasions against Israel’s violations of its resolutions on settlements and occupation. Hence, Francois Hollande will meet with an Israeli prime minister who is very comfortable with the way things are.
(Randa Takieddine is a writer for Dar al-Hayat where this article was published on Nov. 1, 2012)