France's Sarkozy offers in Israel to broker peace
Over the weekend, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, came out in support of Israel calling France a friend of Israel's. He also said that he would do whatever it takes to bring peace to Israel and the region including using French troops if necessary. "I ask you to trust us because we want to help you," said Sarkozy. "France is ready to provide its guarantee, ready to mobilize its diplomatic service, its resources, its soldiers. You can trust France," he said, without specifying what role French soldiers could play. But he also reiterated that Israel must create the conditions for peace touching on the Israeli settlement expansions in the West Bank. "There can be no peace without a halt to settlement activity," he said. Reuters
In the Reuters article by Francois Murphy, he cites President Sarkozy as positioning himself as a possible Middle East peace broker. I couldn't agree more! Keep your eye on this EU rising star. As I have said in the past, he is definitely on my list for persons of interest in these last days. With President Bush vacating office in January 2009, he will be leaving the Middle East peace accord on the negotiating table unconfirmed (Daniel 9:27). I do not look for the next US president to pick up the Middle East peace project and take up where President Bush left off. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will prevent any new president from getting to heavily involved in trying to make Middle East peace work...which may require troops. I do, however, look for someone out of the European Union to fill that role and eventually confirm the Middle East peace agreement President Bush started. French President Nicholas Sarkozy is one of the leading candidates to fill that role.
In the last year or so, Israel has made a number of critical mistakes. One, not dealing with Hezbollah once and for all back in 2006. Now they are stronger than ever entrenched on Israel's northern border ready to strike at Iran's command. Two, bargaining with terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and terrorist supporting nation Syria. This has given international legitimacy to each of these factions. It will now make it impossible to broker a peace agreement without including each in the accord.
But not everyone thinks that this move is a mistake. In a recent article by Alon Ben-Meir of the Middle East Times, he states that this may all be a part of Israel's overall plan, and in some way, serve to benefit them in the likelihood that they have to deal with Iran's nuclear facilities. This is what he had to say on the situation:
Israel's peace offensive of recent days may have been motivated in part by personal or domestic politics, but the driving force behind its willingness to negotiate is part and parcel of a much larger plan. As the dynamics in the Middle East shift in response to Iraq war backlash and Iran's increasingly vigorous nuclear program, Israel has finally conceded that peace with Syria holds the key to rapprochement with the rest of the Arab world, including the Palestinians.
At this time it is clear that waiting any longer will only increase Iran's threats to Israel's survival. If a comprehensive peace with Syria can be agreed upon, Israel will have a much better chance at successful negotiations with Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority and be better equipped to deal with Hezbollah and Hamas – all which will become extremely important as Israel gears up to face Iran.
The importance of engaging Syria from the Israeli perspective cannot be overestimated. Without peace between Israel and Syria, most Israelis believe that Israel will always remain insecure on its northern front. Peace with Syria can also pave the way to an Israeli-Lebanese normalcy, specifically because Syria is imbedded in Lebanon's social, economic, and political makeup and it continues to exert tremendous influence over Hezbollah.
Moreover, Syria can wield significant influence on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating front because more than any other Arab state it provides a sanctuary for Palestinian radical leaders and an influence over the political and financial support of Palestinian extremist groups. Syrian influence transcends the Arab-Israeli conflict because as a predominantly Sunni state, Syria can shift the dynamic of the Shiite-Sunni conflict away from a dangerous escalation with the potential to engulf the entire region.
More importantly, in any effort to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, substantially reduce its influence in Lebanon and dramatically weaken Hezbollah and Hamas, Syria matters because luring it out of the Iranian grips would isolate Tehran especially should it become necessary as a last resort for Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
Should the current peace negotiations end up successfully, the Middle East geopolitical dynamic will experience an historical transformation while preventing a major conflagration between Israel and Iran. Both Syria and Israel fully grasp the huge potential gain or losses should they succeed or fail. Middle East Times
In other news, "a temporary document outlining the general principles of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement can be expected to be compiled by the end of the year, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly told French President Nicolas Sarkorzy on Sunday night." Jerusalem Post
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