France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy has had to eat humble pie after his ground-breaking plan to establish the 43 member Mediterranean Union failed to reach an agreed final communiqué because of the opposition to its wording by the Palestinian Authority (PA) - the only non-state member present.
President Sarkozy’s efforts in bringing Israel and 9 members of the Arab League - including Syria - to this inaugural meeting promised to introduce a ray of light for Israeli-Arab co-operation and an end to regional turmoil.
Hopes were high that the parlous - indeed terminal - state of negotiations between Israel and the PA under the Roadmap proposed by America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - the Quartet - might miraculously be brought back to life.
Israel’s Prime Minister Mr Olmert had been remarkably upbeat in claiming - prior to the meeting - that his country had never been closer to a peace deal with the Palestinians.
The images of President Sarkozy, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Mr Olmert smiling and enjoying a three way bear hug would have encouraged President Sarkozy into believing that he would be able to achieve the diplomatic breakthrough that had eluded the Quartet for the last 5 years.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner however was not taken in by Mr Olmert’s absurd assessment and had sounded a word of warning when he bluntly told European News (12 July):
“Being around the same table with people you have fought is the beginning of something, it is the wind of hope. I’m sorry to say that the talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are not part of this wind of hope”
Little did Mr Kouchner - or President Sarkozy - imagine that the fundamental disagreements between Israel and the PA would be used by the PA to undermine the grand design of President Sarkozy to bring the nations of the Mediterranean and the European Union together in a new spirit of co-operation and joint venture.
The unfriendly wind Mr Kouchner had felt was shortly to blow away any hopes of an agreed summit position when the PA objected to the wording of the summit declaration.
Why the PA thought it necessary to incur the wrath and displeasure of President Sarkozy by importing the Middle-East conflict into the formation of the Mediterranean Union was puzzling. Quibbling over a few words in an otherwise agreed document remained a mystery - until the PA tried to explain the significance - and insidiousness - of its objection.
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told reporters according to Xinhua news agency (July 15):
“The Israelis insisted on the inclusion of the words - “state for the Jewish people” - something we are categorically opposed to. It was out of the question for us to accept this wording. We wanted to ensure the final statement was very clear on this point".
The Israeli delegation had a different take on what had happened telling Xinhua that Israel was in “ agreement with everything that has been adopted in the declaration because it was done by consensus”
Mr Kouchner was more forthcoming on what had actually occurred to spoil President Sarkozy’s party.
He told Xinhua that the standstill had been caused by the use of the expressions “nation state, national state, and democratic state”. This had resulted in “ a last minute deadlock between the Israelis and the Palestinians which meant that the final text had to undergo some little changes. The use of the expression “national state” implies difficulties in ensuring the return of refugees to the Jewish State or non-Jewish, Palestinian State.”
How the PA could ever hope to succeed in getting the Mediterranean Union members to unanimously agree to wording in the summit declaration that would support the entry of millions of Arabs into Israel and deny the Jewish people its own State is unbelievable.
These two intransigent demands of the PA have long been the sticking points in ensuring that President Bush’s vision - the creation of a 23rd Arab state between Israel and Jordan - will remain an impossible dream incapable of fulfilment. Now they had been brought to France by the PA to embarrass and undermine President Sarkozy’s vision - the establishment of the Mediterranean Union.
The supine French reaction to these untenable and badly mistimed demands was entirely predictable.
President Sarkozy could have told the PA to take a cold shower or to re-apply for membership of the Mediterranean Union when it had received international recognition as the governing authority of a sovereign and democratic state. Alternatively he could have suggested the PA be given observer status at the Mediterranean Union until statehood was achieved.
Mindful that any such action would have provoked an Arab walkout, President Sarkozy bit his tongue and chose the diplomatic path - sending the hapless Mr Kouchner on an appeasement journey to ease the frustration President Sarkozy must have felt at this upstart non-state thwarting mighty France at the very moment of what was to be one of its greatest achievements.
Mr Kouchner was left to tell Xinhua (July 15) :
“At the last moment we failed , perhaps for half an hour, to advance due to one word”
That one word was “Jewish”.
The Arab campaign to delegitimise the Jewish State was once again exposed as it continued in earnest in Paris at the birthplace of the Mediterranean Union.
One Jewish State on this planet remains an anathema to most of the 22 Islamic Arab States as they continue resisting it and calling for its destruction wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.
Mr Kouchner is fooling no-one as he bends the French knee once again in deference to this racist alliance that has actively opposed the existence of the Jewish State in its ancient homeland since its establishment 60 years ago.
It will take more than half an hour and more than one word before these nations are disavowed of their evil intention.