Perhaps a turning point in Middle East politics

Published 01.11.2014 01:22

The Swedish government has decided to recognise Palestine as a full-fledged state. The latter owns only "observer" status at the U.N. Although an important legal status, the recognition falls short of giving Palestine the necessary authority and margin of manoeuvre to deal with Israel. The recognition of Palestine as an independent state in a country like Sweden is pointing to a very significant change in the EU's Middle East policy and the attitude of permanent support for Israel.

This step by the Swedish government has launched a wide debate in the EU press. For some observers, that recognition would not be implementable in practice, arguing that Hamas and Fatah cannot control their own territory. But overall, the move by the Swedish found significant support.

In the editorial of the newspaper Publico in Portugal, the process was described as an attempt to end international "hypocrisy." The newspaper said that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Libermann, in his usual style, wandering outside the bounds of decency, declared "relations in the Middle East are not as simple as IKEA furniture installation."

However, it has become more and more evident that Israel will not be able to pursue its policy of "de-Palestinisation" of the West Bank, even if Israeli politicians continue to snub international public opinion. The same subject has been analysed in Lidové Noviny, a Czech Republic daily, which emphasises that recognising the Palestinian state without expecting anything in return was to give it a carte blanche and might not be such a good idea.

All foreign observers have a common point, which is the fact that Israel, by establishing permanent Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and sabotaging the creation of a coherent Palestinian state is blocking all solution possibilities. Recently, private news leaked from the White House administration, pertaining to Prime Minister Netanyahu's personality and policies. Such leakages never contained such blunt evaluations of Israel before. These developments will certainly not create an "anti-Israel" attitude in the U.S., but point to an "overhaul" regarding Israel.

Policies pursued by major powers of the world have only created instability, totalitarian regimes, strife, bloodshed and ethnic or sectarian cleansing in the Middle East up until now. The change of attitude might not be very discernible yet, still there is a change of attitude on the part of democratic regimes, as shown by Sweden's decision to recognise Palestine and the U.S. administration's rebuke concerning Netanyahu.

Regional actors, Israel, Hamas and Fatah, will also be forced to adopt a policy based on negotiations on non-conflict, and peaceful settlement. If Israel, which definitely remains the key actor, gives some support to a new policy, it can change the fortunes of the entire region.

In this sense, Turkey's rapprochement with Israel would provide significant support for a possible defusing of tensions in the region and that is of utmost importance for any democratic regime. Istanbul-based Shalom newspaper in an important article published by Karel Valansi, who underlines Israel's most important trump card, the natural gas deposits and who, succinctly, sums up the situation in two sentences: " Is a 'peace pipeline' between Turkey and Israel possible? Can natural gas diplomacy provide this rapprochement?"

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