Monday, May 08, 2006

Policy Meltdown in Middle East

As the economic and social situation on the occupied West Bank and in Gaza deterioates, there is an accelerating need to discuss what Western policy is really trying to achieve.

I utter fail to see how a social meltdown in the occupied territories will foster the forces of moderation and promote the possibilities of peace.

On the contrary, it is likely to play into the hands of the fundamentalists and the militants, and thus be contrary to the goals that we normally claim that our policy has.

In Europe, I have yet to meet anyone who genuinely believes in the policy that is pursued. Indeed, the European Union is busy seeking ways around it, although there are reports that it is encountering resistance from the United States.

The interest of Israel in this is somewhat strange. As the occupying authority on the West Bank, they are the ones that will have to handle the consequences. The aid that has been given to the Palestinian Administration has, de facto, been making the task of the occupation somewhat easier.

Gaza is of course much worse. Here Israel is also closing the border crossings, thus making any trade impossible. It risks rapidly becoming even more of a hotbed for terrorists than has already been the case. And our policy is to a large extent responsible.

Anmong the voices protesting the policy is the one of Jimmy Carter. He knows what he is talking about concerning the region.

Others are equally critical, but less outspoken. Outgoing Quartet representative in the region, former World Bank president Jim Wolfensohn, has views that are very similar to those of Jimmy Carter.

It's no coincidence that he asked to be relieved of his post - and that the US did not want to see him replaced by anyone else.

It's an emerging economic and social meltdown in the occupied areas and in Gaza.

But it's already a policy meltdown of dangereous propotions in Tel Aviv, Washington and Brussels.