Δευτέρα, 24 Ιανουαρίου 2011

Medvedev in Palestine ..


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas
Medvedev in Palestine     "The world is gradually becoming accustomed to the idea that Palestine will join the family of nations this summer."

The sentence, which appeared in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz in reaction to the increasing recognition of a Palestinian state, reflects Israel's concern. The recognition gathers pace with the Russian president's visit to the Palestinian territories. Dmitry Medvedev's recent trip to the West Bank constitutes a historical step, which earns notable significance, when juxtaposed with current developments in the Middle East. In Ramallah, President Medvedev said Russia supported the Palestinian people's "right in establishing a united, viable and independent state with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital." He also said it was one of key conditions for the success of the Middle East negotiations that Tel Aviv halts "all settlement activities” in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds. The visit would not please Israel, especially after the Russian president described his visit "as the first visit by him to the Palestinian territories and the region, which has nothing to do with visiting a neighboring state [Israel]." He was slated to visit Israel as well, but a strike by the Israeli Foreign Ministry's workers prompted him to go to Jordan and travel by land to the West Bank. 
Russia refrained from influencing the issue of Palestine following the break-up of the Soviet Union. It, however, has chosen to return Moscow's role in the Middle East given the region's new circumstances. Medvedev's visit took place, while chances for the recognition of a future Palestinian state are building up. The new trend, set by the Latin American governments, lives on. The European countries are upgrading the Palestinian diplomatic representations in their capitals. In the latest and most significant step, the US government has allowed the Palestine Liberation Organization to raise the Palestinian flag on top of the PLO's diplomatic mission in Washington. Although, the White House tried to downplay the event and the US State Department spokesman said, "The granting permission to raise the flag does not change their fundamental status" and does not entail diplomatic immunity and privilege, it appears from the reaction of Israel's steadfast supporters in Congress that the measure serves as a small step to pressure Tel Aviv, which turned down its main ally's proposal to shortly halt settlement construction. 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said through a statement in a not-toned-down criticism of Washington's approval that "raising this flag in DC is part of the Palestinian leadership's scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition of a yet-to-be-created Palestinian state." She added that the Palestinian leadership refuses "to directly negotiate with Israel, or accept the existence of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state." 

On August 9, 36 US members of the US House of Representatives, namely Ms. Ros-Lehtinen wrote a letter to the Secretary of State, asking the administration to review its summer decision to award symbolic privileges to the PLO's mission in Washington. Israel, due to its insistence on settlement construction, occupation of the Palestinian territories, rejection of the implementation of the UN resolutions and sustaining the Gaza Strip's blockade, is being afflicted with increasing isolation. Its supporting lobby in the Congress and the US governmental circles do not seem to help it much out of the situation either. There is no guarantee that Mahmoud Abbas' diplomacy leads to establishment of a Palestinian state in accordance to 1967 borders. The yet-to-be-established country, however, has caused Tel Aviv and its allies in the US and Europe to lose sleep. Ha'aretz adds in its article that "they will go out into Jerusalem [al-Quds]'s summer heat and march…toward the Old City walls…shouting "Istiqlal," independence…to get Israel out of the territories beyond the Green Line…Just like the demonstrators in Tunisia got rid of Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali. It then asks “How will Israel react? Will it shoot the demonstrators and kill them before cameras from all over the world? ...Will it jail thousands for holding an unauthorized demonstration? ...And what if the demonstrators keep marching, day after day, supported by international sympathy and all the international news media?...The world is gradually becoming accustomed to the idea that Palestine will join the family of nations this summer. That is what US President Barack Obama promised in his address to the most recent United Nations General Assembly. That is what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised in her address to the Saban Forum (a Palestinian state, achieved through negotiations, is inevitable, she said)." 

Israel hopes that the [US-backed] Hariri court's issuance of indictment and the Lebanese Hezbollah's potential conviction changes the order of things in the Middle East, providing Tel Aviv with better circumstances. The wind, however, is not blowing in the Israeli vessel's favor. Should the issue of the tribunal be a planned scheme with accurate and predictable details, Tunisia's revolution is a blow to Israel, which had established good relations with the country's dictator. Tel Aviv, like the US and the best part of Europe, prefers to work with dictatorial states in the Middle East and the North Africa over the democratic and popular rule. Israel is concerned that emulation of the Tunisian model by peoples in other dictatorial Arab states destroys its years of effort to establish overt and covert relation with these governments. 

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