Turning Up the Heat?
During August, Israeli-Palestinian relations reached their lowest point in the past decade. In a belated effort to break the stalemate, the Sharon-Peres government sent in the Israeli Defense Force (idf) to take over Jerusalem’s Palestinian Liberation Organization headquarters, Orient House. The Israeli government then sent letters to its nationals who were temporarily overseas advising of the prospect of a mass call-up of idf reservists.
The tiny nation of Israel, condemned even by the United States for its recent aggressive acts of retaliation against Palestinian provocations, was signaling the prospect of being finally ready to act more decisively with its problem of West Bank security and even considering the prospect of more assertive action to contain its northern arch-enemy, Syria.
Is this just saber-rattling, or is it the real thing?
Powerful interests are seeking to influence the outcome of this Middle East scenario—the U.S., the European Union, the Vatican in particular.
Yet, at the very time Israel needs its big brother to scare off its enemies, the U.S. is stridently castigating Israel for its latest efforts at containing the intifada.
Indeed, it is even seen to be backing off from direct involvement. As Palestinian analyst Ghassan Khatib recently observed, “I can’t remember a period where the Americans were out of it in such a critical and dangerous situation as this one” (Washington Post, Aug. 7).
Is Israel ready for war? Some analysts claim that “the chances are high for a major military explosion in the Middle East” (www.worldnetdaily.com, Aug. 1).
Yet even on the brink of the prospect of renewed Middle East war, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres continues to shuttle between Palestinian Liberation Authority (pla) Chairman Yasser Arafat, Pope John Paul, and EU High Representative Javier Solana.
Herein lies the key. The immediate future of Israel will be decided not by the U.S. or even the United Nations. It will be a consensus between the pla and Israel, inspired by the Vatican-EU combine, imposed and even enforced upon Israel by an army of “peacekeepers.”
Such a force could well involve the new EU rapid reaction force. In the words of Solana, the new EU force will be able to deploy to its first missions “in a few months’ time.” Will one of its first missions be in the Middle East? Continue to watch for this crucial turn in world events.