September 12, 2011


Softening Stance After Setbacks: Israel Fears Complete Isolation (Ulrike Putz, 9/12/11, Der Spiegel)

Rarely has the Jewish state suffered so many setbacks and blows as this month:

On Sept. 1, pro-Palestinian activists in London interrupted a performance by the Israeli Symphony Orchesta so vehemently that the BBC had to break off its broadcast of the concert for the first time in its history.

On Sept. 6, it became known that former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates had described Netanyahu as "ungrateful" in a meeting of the National Security Council. By refusing to acknowledge Israel's growing isolation, Netanyahu was endangering his country, Gates said. The fact that Gates' comments became public and weren't contradicted by the US government suggest that they were a semi-official message to Jerusalem.

The dispute between Turkey and Israel over Israel's refusal to apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish activists in a 2010 Israeli raid on a Turkish boat carrying aid for Gaza culminated last week when Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador, cancelled its military cooperation with Jerusalem and announced it would provide military protection for Turkish ships heading to Gaza in the future. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman retorted that Israel would cooperate closely in the future with Kurds and Armenians, traditional opponents of Turkey.

The Palestinian leadership has vowed to seek full United Nations membership for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank at the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 20. Attempts by the European Union and the US to persuade Ramallah to refrain from such a move, by offering them the prospect of fresh peace negotiations, have so far failed to dissuade the Palestinians.

On Friday night, thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, tore a hole in the surrounding wall, stormed part of the building and held six Israelis under siege for hours. All embassy staff had been evacuated, and only one official was left in the building at the time. Israeli's most important representation in the Arab world is effectively closed now.

Given these crises, Netanyahu is wise to try to calm the waters. For weeks, Israeli politicians and analysts have been warning that Israel's hard-line stance is causing irreparable damage to its reputation among Arabs and in the West. Criticism of the government is especially strong in the security services: the military intelligence service, the domestic intelligence service Shin Bet and the foreign secret service Mossad have repeatedly called on the government in recent weeks to resume talks with the Palestinians in order to ease tensions and lessen international anger toward Israel, the daily Haaretz reported.

Where's a JiNO like Ariel Sharon when they need him?

Posted by at September 12, 2011 2:42 PM

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