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MIDDLE EAST/ Herzog: From Libya to Syria, risks and opportunities for Israel and Palestinians

April Tue 05, 2011

(photo ANSA)  (photo ANSA)

Michael Herzog, occasional columnist for the newspaper Haaretz, Brigadier General of the Israeli Reserve Army, and an International Fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy talks to ilsussidiario.net about the revolutions in the Arab world, and what effect they could have on the Israeli-Palestinian relations.

How does the Israeli Government see the wave of revolutions in the Arab countries?

The Israelis see both opportunity and risk in what is happening. On the one hand, most people in Israel are of the opinion that democracy in the Middle East is good for both peace and stability and, in that sense, what is happening around us has a positive potential. On the other hand, we also feel that there is a risk in the transition because there are many anti-democratic forces in the Middle East, which would like to direct the transition away from democracy. Israelis, with their own history, are aware of that perhaps more than others, and would like to see that the transition is guided. Therefore, there is a mixture of hope and eyeing the risks of the situation.

The state of Israel seemed to have no peace, diplomatic, or political initiative in the revolutions. Is that really so?

First of all, what is happening in other countries, in Egypt, in Syria, and elsewhere is not about Israel. It is about domestic issues and those people’s quest for liberty, government, honor and so on. So Israelis do not think that they should interfere. But you are right that the peace forces right now are in a situation of stalemate. It’s a long story how we got to where we have no peace process in progress for negotiations with the Palestinians. In my view this is very unfortunate and I think all the parties contributed to it. As far as Israel is concerned, it is my opinion that the Israeli government would do well to come out with an initiative. However, I also think that the American administration does not have a clear clue of what to do about it, and unfortunately the Palestinians are heading towards a unilateral action in the international community instead of towards negotiations.

How could the revolutions change the relationship between Israel and Palestine?



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