From our correspondent
New York «We witnessed an escalation in Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel. It may calm down, but all this shows that the Palestinian cause has returned. Crown victorydirector of the Johns Hopkins University School of International Politics who was also an adviser to the Obama administration on Middle East affairs, explains Washington’s expectations of the closure of the Palestinian cause were wrong.”
Why has the Palestinian issue become marginal to Iran?
The expectation was that Arabs and Muslims do not care what happens in Israel, only about Iran and that an agreement can be reached between Israel and the Arabs on this basis. This assumption, which began under the Trump presidency and continued under Biden, is collapsing. The Arabs have made it clear that they would prefer a more nuanced relationship with Iran. They have their problems, but the Saudis know they cannot solve the situation in Yemen with war. The UAE and Kuwait have reopened their embassies in Iran, and Saudi Arabia will, too. Meanwhile, the Palestinian cause has once again flared up with fury in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, with social media, one event is enough and there are many: a right-wing government, whose finance minister denied the existence of the Palestinians as a people, and a government that is very aggressive in settlements and in applying Israeli sovereignty to every individual. A space for the Palestinian Arab space, including Al-Aqsa Mosque.
What is the reaction of Arab and Islamic countries?
He was publicly criticized by the same Arab governments friends of Israel, and Türkiye joined in. In private, they will ask Netanyahu to be careful not to make things more difficult, for example by formally normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia. It’s kind of back to the future. Hamas responds with missiles, a calculated gesture that leads the Israelis to continue using force, which is counterproductive for the Jewish state. Iran is betting on the Palestinian cause to keep Israel away from the Arab world ».
How can these or other crises in the region affect the natural gas deal between Israel and Lebanon?
One of the major victories for the Biden administration was helping to negotiate a deal between the Lebanese and Israeli governments on border demarcation and natural gas exploitation. This agreement would not have existed without the approval of Hezbollah and Iran. But it is highly dependent on stability between the Palestinians and Israel, Lebanon and Gaza. Hezbollah threatened to hit the platforms. I’m not sure he would, but the group thus asserts that if regional security fails, Europe’s energy security is also at risk.
What is Biden’s strategy?
Â «The United States addresses Ukraine and China, and Biden is the third president in a row to downplay the importance of the Middle East in foreign policy. Which means, after Bush, no war. But US policies have not produced greater stability. The result of the agreement brokered by China between the Iranians and the Saudis is positive for Washington: it avoids a military confrontation that would raise oil and gas prices, but American policies would not have succeeded in this due to the lack of a mediation strategy, on the contrary, they would have increased the risk of collision. Washington’s problem is that it is losing influence. In the midst of all this, the Palestinian cause returns. Regarding the peace process, after Trump said that the two-state dialogue is closed, the Biden administration did not adopt any policies. Talk about Israel’s internal problems, not the Palestinian issue ».
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