The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the root cause of Mideast instability,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on
Sunday, a day after Fabius said it was perhaps the central issue in the
The root of the area’s instability, Netanyahu said in a public
statement made alongside Fabius before the two met in Jerusalem, is the regional
rejection of modernity, moderation, progress and political solutions.
say that because for too long people believed that the root cause of this
instability in the Middle East was the Palestinian-Israeli problem. It is not
the root cause; it’s one of its results,” he said.
“If we have peace with
the Palestinians, the centrifuges will not stop spinning in Iran, the turmoil
will not stop in Syria, the instability in North Africa will not cease, the
attacks on the West will not cease,” he added.
Netanyahu seemed to be
responding directly to comments Fabius made Saturday in Ramallah, after meting
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Even if we speak of other
neighboring countries – the dramatic conflict in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt – the
fact remains that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one of the issues, perhaps
the central one, for the region,” Fabius said.
After meeting Netanyahu,
Fabius said at a solo press conference that while in the past the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict burned while the rest of the region was relatively
quiet, now the situation was reversed.
But, he said, it would be a “grave
mistake” to follow those saying that this was not the time to move on the
Israeli-Palestinian track because of everything else happening in the
“I think it is necessary to take advantage of a situation where
there it is relative quiet,” he said, adding that the quiet demonstrated a
“change of mentality” that needed to be harnessed for moving the process
While acknowledging that an Israeli-Palestinian accord would not
solve all the problems in the region, Fabius said that if Israel and the
Palestinian Authority could be turned into an “island of stability” it would be
easier to deal with the other problems.
Fabius, before meeting President
Shimon Peres, said that with so many dramatic events enveloping the region –
such as in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt – there were those wondering how peace could
be made under such circumstances.
“But we must think in the opposite
way,” he said.
“Because of those things peace is even more important in
the region, and we must make the most of this moment.”
Peres said that
for peace to be made skepticism must be overcome.
“The fact is that
despite the skepticism negotiations opened and it wasn’t easy for either side,”
In an apparent allusion to the blow Hamas was dealt with the
downfall of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, Peres said the “the
position of Abu Mazen [Abbas] has improved, he knows it and it helps him. I
think the Prime Minister [Netanyahu] decided to move and he moved. Peace is not
easy but if we achieve it then we will be able to turn our attention to the
tragic and existential issues of the Middle East.”
UN Mideast envoy
Robert Serry said Israeli and Palestinian fear of the consequences of yet
another failed stab at peace negotiations could actually spur the sides toward
success this time.
Serry, in an interview on Israel Radio, said that
failure would have consequences for Abbas, whom he described as the leader of
the “more moderate wing of the Palestinian movement which is committed to a two
“But the very reason that the consequences, in my view,
for both sides will be pretty serious if this fails again, gives me also hope
that they will be serious in the US-led effort to return meaningful
negotiations,” he said.
Serry, who has an extremely low profile in the
country for someone who has served in his present post for the last six years,
said there was “growing realization on both sides that it is imperative to make
progress, meaningful progress, not to make these talks another round about
talks, but meaningful talks.”
He said that if both sides were ready to
make “tough decisions” then the goal of an agreement could be reached in “six to
Hinting that a failure this time could lead to the collapse
of the PA, Serry said that Palestinian state building cannot “continue
endlessly” without “a credible political horizon.”
He said this was why
the negotiations were so important.
“These institutions have been built
up,” he said. “If their ultimate meaning, which is to be the foundation stones
of a Palestinian state, becomes a total illusion, then we should not take their
continued existence for granted.
It should be clear to
Serry said he feels “a little more optimistic” than he has over
the last six years.