Will the U.S. and France deal Israel a double blow?

Shoshana Bryen, a long-time observer of the Middle East, senses danger to Israel arising from two areas of dispute between France and the U.S. The first area of disagreement involves the Iranian nuclear negotiations:

The French government has expressed increasing concern that the emerging [nuclear] deal is flawed — perhaps fatally. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius reportedly told the French Parliament, “France will not accept [a deal] if it is not clear that inspections can be done at all Iranian installations, including military sites.”

He added, “Yes to an agreement, but not to an agreement that will enable Iran to have the atomic bomb. That is the position of France, which is independent and peaceful.”

Good for France.

But France is not so good when it comes to the second area of dispute –the Middle East “peace process”:

France, Britain and Germany had drafted a UN Security Council Resolution late last year to set parameters for establishing a Palestinian State and “ending the conflict.” It was not submitted because of the impending Israeli election.

France is prepared to try now with a draft that would “solve” the problem by using the 1949 Armistice Line as a reference point for a Palestinian state with a shared capital in Jerusalem, a “fair” solution for refugees, and possible land swaps. It would also require that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish State.”

Fabius, speaking in New York, said, “these parameters have to be defined and recognized by the Security Council and that obviously the two parties have to discuss, but the discussion will be accompanied by an international effort.”

The U.S. has always opposed giving giving the UN authority to establish requirements for the parties to the “peace process.” Doing so also happens to violate the Oslo accords.

Just last month, Obama said he intends to veto the French proposal. He described it as “a big overarching deal” that probably is not “possible in the next year, given the makeup of the Netanyahu government, given the challenges I think that exist for President Abbas.”

In his heart of hearts, however, President Obama probably likes what France has in mind. Indeed, he recently told Israeli television:

If in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there’s a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation, it’s more difficult for me to say to them,

Moreover, we know that Obama favors the underlying “solution” contained in France’s proposal – two-states defined, essentially, by the pre-1967 borders.

We have, then, the makings of a “grand bargain.” France caves on Iran, giving Obama the deal he so desperately desires. In exchange, the U.S. agrees to the French proposal on Israel, giving France what it most craves – diplomatic influence – on terms with which Obama personally has no problem at all.

It’s a classic win-win. Unless you happen to be Israel. In that case, it’s a colossal lose-lose.


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