Javier Solana 88 224.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Some time ago, the foreign minister of the European Union, Javier Solana, and the American envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, met in an airport in Madrid by coincidence, in which they announced that they had seen eye to eye. This is an early sign of renewed and improved relations between the US and the EU (also when it comes to Middle East relations).
Each side has relative advantages.
The United States:
â€¢ The US is the number one superpower in the world with great strategic influence in the region.
â€¢ It is Israel's strongest ally and can help secure Israel, as well as influence its decisions.
â€¢ President Barack Obama is creating a new opening to the Arab and Islamic world after the difficult period in their relations under the Bush administration.
The European Union:
â€¢ The EU is the most important economic power close to the Middle East and can influence political and economic cooperation in the region.
â€¢ Europe has good relationships with the Arab world and the credibility to offer itself as an honest broker.
â€¢ Europe, and especially Russia, have relations with Iran and may help to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions.
â€¢ The EU is a model of regional peace-making and economic integration, from which the Middle East can learn a lot.
These two powers can, by working together, have a positive influence in the Middle East peace process in the following way: The two sides should dialogue with the new Israeli leadership after the election, with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, i.e. Mahmoud Abbas, the leadership of Syria, and other regional leaderships. Together, this Trans-Atlantic coalition should also begin a dialogue with Iran to make it clear that both the US and Europe will not allow the development of nuclear weapons and to offer incentives, in case there is a verifiable stop of the development of nuclear weapons.
Also, the Trans-Atlantic coalition should coordinate a gradual withdrawal from Iraq, fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and its Pakistani border, as well as partake in a nation-building process in the two countries. The coalition should then initiate a peace conference in the Middle East, based on the Madrid formula and the Saudi Initiative, to advance comprehensive peace, economic development, and security in the region.
The writer was chief negotiator of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and is today president of the Peres Center for Peace.