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Ball’s In Your Court, Monsieur Netanyahu

Editorial: Ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Europe, Le Monde says the Arab Spring and Hamas-Fatah reconciliation mean the time for posturing is over.

Article illustrative image Partner logo Israeli soldiers patrolling in the West Bank

PARIS - Ein brera. No choice. For a long time this was Israel’s answer to adversity. For decades in a completely hostile environment, the Jewish State felt it had no other choice than to never let its guard down, constantly rely on its own strengths and count on no one else. There’s no doubt that the energy, the resilience and inventiveness it had to master has allowed Israel to get through many difficult times.

But today it seems that this same attitude is simply preventing it from putting an end to its conflict with the Palestinians, a conflict that existed before the state of Israel was created and whose resolution would be a guarantee of its survival.

History has been in the making all over the southern bank of the Mediterranean, and it won’t skip the Palestinian territory. Everywhere, the “Arab spring” is bringing together people with the same demands for dignity, democracy and freedom, and there is no reason why it should not reach the Palestinians, too.

Answering these demands starts with creating an independent state. This idea, which seemed inconceivable just a few decades ago, slowly became obvious, even in Israel. The signing of the Oslo agreements in 1993 should have marked the beginning of the process. Both sides seem to have thrown away the opportunity: 18 years later, Palestine is still waiting for its time to come.

Nicolas Sarkozy, a friend of Israel, has been making this assessment increasingly loud and clear. For the French President, who will be meeting the Israeli Prime Minister in Paris on Thursday, these never-ending “peace processes,” where diplomacy becomes the art of waging war by other means, have proven useless.

Seeing the growing numbers of Israeli settlers on their land, Palestinians have decided to try something else. In September, at the United Nations General Assembly, they will seek a symbolic victory: having Palestine recognized by as many countries as possible.

Israel has been trying to make this project fail with more energy than it has ever devoted to carving out an acceptable peace deal with the Palestinians. It uses every new event as an excuse to back out even more. The reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas was the latest event used by Netanyahu to justify a tougher stance – although the reconciliation has had a favorable response from France and the UK, the other country the Israeli Prime Minister will visit during his upcoming European trip.

Netanyahu will present a new political initiative in June. That’s a good thing. Now it’s his turn to play his cards right, especially the settlement one, which could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Photo - andydr

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This leading French daily newspaper Le Monde ("The World") was founded in December 1944 in the aftermath of World War II. Today, it is distributed in 120 countries. In late 2010, a trio formed by Pierre Berge, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse took a controlling 64.5% stake in the newspaper.

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