(JTA) – France’s peace initiative heralds a serious diplomatic threat for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Washington Post said in an editorial.
According to the editorial published Wednesday evening on the newspaper’s website, the peace summit set to begin Friday in Paris without Palestinian or Israeli participation marks the beginning of a multilateral effort to formulate a plan for Palestinian statehood by Western powers, including the United States.
U.S. President Barack Obama, the unsigned editorial read, “is said to be weighing whether to support a UN Security Council resolution later this year spelling out terms for a two-state solution” – a move Israel has long opposed, worrying that it would produce results it found unacceptable.
Israel opposes the premise of the Paris summit – a gathering of foreign ministers from Western and Arab countries – because French diplomats have said they seek a deadline on talks, after which a Palestinian state would be recognized regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. Netanyahu, who argues the deadline would demotivate the Palestinians from compromising, also objects to indirect peace talks.
Amid growing polarization in Israel society, the op-ed said, Netanyahu elected to veer to the right by appointing Avigdor Liberman as defense minister in a coalition deal that broadened Netanyahu’s coalition by joining to its ranks Liberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party instead of Labor.
The Post described Liberman as a “hard-line nationalist with an abysmal international reputation” who is unlikely to help reduce international pressure on Israel.
Netanyahu and Liberman’s statements this week in support of a Palestinian state and parts of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative appeared to be “an effort to mitigate the diplomatic damage” heading Israel’s way, according to the editorial.
But such “rhetorical gestures are unlikely to reduce the international pressure unless accompanied by actions,” the writers continued, adding that declaring a freeze on construction in settlements “would be a good start.”