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The much-quoted Pew Poll of 1000 Egyptians produced some headlines. Here are two: A majority of Egyptians would like to see the Egypt-Israeli peace treaty annulled. Two-thirds of Egyptians have a very or somewhat favourable view of the Muslim Brotherhood. One suspects that the numbers would not be all that different in Syria, or Jordan or Lebanon or any other Arab nation in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Any newly-established, partly Islamist Middle Eastern government looking to coalesce domestic support could hardly do better than making emnity towards Israel a centrepiece of its foreign policy.
This is the likely end game of the Arab Spring. Once the revolts have either destabilized or overthrown the existing governments, there follows weaker regimes. Weak regimes need to shore up support fast, lest they collapse. The fastest way an Arab politician or Arab politicians can shore up support is to rally popular opinion against a common enemy. In the Middle East, to paraphrase Tom Lehrer, everybody hates the Jews.
So attention turns to Israel. David Rothkopf asserts (correctly, in our view) that Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu now has a few months (at the most) and perhaps only a few weeks to figure out how to navigate his country through this coming reality. Rothkopf writes:
The situation could hardly be more difficult for Netanyahu. The pressure globally, in the region and at home is growing. His cabinet is battered by internal issues including the growing legal mess in which his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman finds himself. Israel’s “best friend,” the United States, is undergoing a sea-change in its views which is manifest in internal divisions within the administration about how to manage just about each and every issue pertaining to the Middle East… including the Israel-Palestine question.
Netanyahu has just weeks, at most a couple months, to determine the fate of his administration. Old stratagems won’t work. Old rhetoric will fall dead to the ground before it reaches the ears of a single listener. Continuing to pursue without amendment his recent stance on settlements is a non-starter and effectively will assure the world continues on its course to cut Israel as much as possible from this discussion about an issue that is central to its fate. To get ahead of the issue he must be seen to be offering a fair and reasonable plan to swiftly put into place a Palestinian state that has a chance of succeeding economically, socially and politically. Or at least he must offer a plan for how Israel will enable such a transformation. Naturally, he will be expected to argue in Israel’s self-interest. But he must recognise that unless he is seen to be taking a truly new tack, truly embracing the inevitable, his few friends in the world — including the United States– will find it very, very difficult to do anything but treat him as though he were already a historical relic, unsuited for the issues and the realities of the region today.
You can read the whole article here.
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