After Egypt’s wondrous revolution the Middle East will never be the same again. Egypt is so large and so consequential that such profound political change there is bound to impact everything, including the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Is it a threat to peacemaking or an opportunity?
As Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government teetered amid a week of mass demonstrations, Israelis were nervously casting their eyes at neighboring Jordan, with speculation of a regional domino effect that could weaken the Jewish state’s strategic alliance with the Hashemite monarchy and boost an Islamist opposition.
But even as King Abdullah dismissed his government on Tuesday, Israeli analysts predicted that it was unlikely that the Egyptian uprising could be replicated on the eastern bank of the Jordan River.
With Israeli-Palestinian negotiations back in the deep freeze, the past few days have seen a flurry of speculation about possible movement on the Israel-Syrian diplomatic front. Last month President Barack Obama appointed the first ambassador to Damascus since 2005. This week Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Presidents Conference, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, prompting speculation he was there at the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It’s hardly surprising that U.S. efforts to coax Israel into extending its West Bank settlement freeze seem to have derailed. What was unclear from the initial reports: does the Obama administration have a Plan B, or does this represent the effective end of its efforts to find a route to peace for Israel and the Palestinians?
From the beginning, it never made much sense to us to invest U.S. prestige in an unbecoming effort to lure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back to the peace table with a rich package of incentives that included F-35 warplanes.
Neither side can be seen scuttling negotiations, experts say.
Washington — When the fat lady sings on Sept. 26, it may only be an intermission.
That’s the word from an array of Mideast experts across the political spectrum. They are predicting that the seeming intractability between Israel and the Palestinians over whether Israel extends a settlement moratorium beyond its end date will not scuttle the peace talks.
Instead, the observers say, the sides are likely employing the brinksmanship that has come to characterize Middle East peacemaking.
Hezbollah seen as possible provocateur in clash between Israeli and Lebanese armies, but larger conflict seen unlikely as peace talks near.
Hezbollah may have instigated the most serious border clash between Israeli and Lebanese troops in four years Tuesday, a skirmish that killed one Israeli soldier and four Lebanese. But one Middle East expert believes the conflict is not likely to escalate.
This long hot summer is a lot more than just sweltering temperatures on America’s East Coast. New rocket attacks against Israeli targets and Tuesday’s big flare-up along the Israel-Lebanon border point to a region precariously close to yet another deadly war.
Like so much in the Middle East, the Gaza-Sderot theater of war opened long before the American media picked up on it after the deaths of seven Palestinians on a Gaza beach, June 9. The press spoke of Hamas now ending its ìtruceî because of Israelís shelling. Not mentioned was the young girl in Sderot who was killed last January when shrapnel entered her brain while she was shielding her little brother from an incoming rocket, or dozens of similar incidents.