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Netanyahu's Historic Visit - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Israeli delegations have flocked to Cairo, while numerous official statements have been issued from the official residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is today packing his bags for his visit to Washington. This meeting was postponed just days before it was scheduled to be held due to the confrontation surrounding the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla.

Perhaps there is nothing new on Israel’s agenda; however an Israeli official did describe Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with US President Barack Obama as being an event that will change the history of the region. So what is this news that will change history? This could be nothing more than propaganda, an attempt to attract attention to a visit that has already been postponed once before, and which was preceded by a visit that ranks among the worst in the history of US – Israeli relations, to the point that the White House refused to allow any photographs of this meeting between Netanyahu and Obama to be published. Or this could be an attempt to hype-up any political concessions that Netanyahu will offer in order to ease the mounting international pressure on Israel, especially after Europe revealed its project to support the establishment of a Palestinian State if Israel continues to hamper negotiations. This step shocked the Israeli government, and Tel Aviv consider this to be one of the most dangerous ideas to be proposed, namely the implementation of a two-state solution with the establishment of a Palestinian state, whether this is through negotiations or not.

Netanyahu could say that he ruined the region in a historic manner. He has helped Arab and Islamist extremists to emerge in the region at the expense of moderates. He weakened Mahmoud Abbas’s government, and distorted its reputation among its own citizens, despite all of its efforts to institute domestic reform and promote a peaceful solution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict. Netanyahu also spoiled the crucial relationship between Israel and Egypt, and pushed others like moderate Turkey towards the inclination of Iran, Hamas and others.

Regardless of Netanyahu’s agenda in Washington and his promise of “historic change” enthusiasm has waned due Israel’s stalling and procrastination, and as a result of the US administration’s failure to manifest a political figure capable of getting things on the ground. Due to Netanyahu’s bad reputation, there is not much hope that his visit will live up to this promise.

As for the Arab side, it is spreading despair, and the extremists are exerting pressure in order to prevent the option of direct negotiations. Even the Palestinian Authority, which is most in need of negotiations and peaceful solutions, has begun to avoid talking about its desire for this, and has publicly rejected direct negotiations even though it does not have any other options.

If President Obama does not want a battle with the Israeli lobby at a time that the US mid-term elections are fast approaching, then he must at least allow the Europeans to try their project to vote in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian state, and for this issue to take its legal course through the corridors of the United Nations. The Europeans are eager to test the idea of establishing a Palestinian State via the UN, in a form that is expected to be accepted by all countries in the world except for Netanyahu’s Israel. This is a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders in the Gaza Strip, along with the return of the Golan Heights to Syria. This is the same form adopted by the Arabs in the historic Arab Peace Initiative, and endorsed by an international majority, in return for which the Arab states officially recognize Israel and formally announce the end of the conflict.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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