Concern in Israel: Jerusalem Skeptical of Obama's Middle East Policy
Not everyone is ecstatic about Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential elections. Many in Israel are concerned that, should Obama make good on his promise to talk to all comers, Israel could be left out in the cold.
Not everyone in Israel is quite sure what to think about the new American president-elect.
"That is the biggest danger for us, because we wouldn't be at the negotiating table ourselves," former Mossad leader Efraim Halevy said recently.
The danger, he said, comes from the fact that such talks would necessarily touch on Iran's relations with other countries in the region, like Syria and Lebanon, and with the Palestinians. "When our regional interests are up for discussion, we can't be represented by a proxy," Halevy said. Jerusalem is also worried that Obama may begin talks with Iran without preconditions.
If Obama opens a dialogue with Syria and radical Islamists, says Barry Rubin from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, a university. "That would undermine the solidity of modernizing forces in the Middle East, Rubin says.
Zalman Shoval, Israel's former ambassador in Washington D.C., for his part is not anticipating that solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem is going to be tops on Obama's long and daunting priority list. Every US president who has addressed the issue thus far, he points out, has failed. "Why would Obama want to begin with a flop?" he wonders.
Pierre Heumann is the Middle East correspondent for the Swiss paper Weltwoche
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