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Ball’s In Your Court, Monsieur Netanyahu

Editorial: Ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Europe, Le Monde says the Arab Spring and Hamas-Fatah reconciliation mean the time for posturing is over.

Israeli soldiers patrolling in the West Bank
Israeli soldiers patrolling in the West Bank

PARIS - Ein brera. No choice. For a long time this was Israel's answer to adversity. For decades in a completely hostile environment, the Jewish State felt it had no other choice than to never let its guard down, constantly rely on its own strengths and count on no one else. There's no doubt that the energy, the resilience and inventiveness it had to master has allowed Israel to get through many difficult times.

But today it seems that this same attitude is simply preventing it from putting an end to its conflict with the Palestinians, a conflict that existed before the state of Israel was created and whose resolution would be a guarantee of its survival.

History has been in the making all over the southern bank of the Mediterranean, and it won't skip the Palestinian territory. Everywhere, the "Arab spring" is bringing together people with the same demands for dignity, democracy and freedom, and there is no reason why it should not reach the Palestinians, too.

Answering these demands starts with creating an independent state. This idea, which seemed inconceivable just a few decades ago, slowly became obvious, even in Israel. The signing of the Oslo agreements in 1993 should have marked the beginning of the process. Both sides seem to have thrown away the opportunity: 18 years later, Palestine is still waiting for its time to come.

Nicolas Sarkozy, a friend of Israel, has been making this assessment increasingly loud and clear. For the French President, who will be meeting the Israeli Prime Minister in Paris on Thursday, these never-ending "peace processes," where diplomacy becomes the art of waging war by other means, have proven useless.

Seeing the growing numbers of Israeli settlers on their land, Palestinians have decided to try something else. In September, at the United Nations General Assembly, they will seek a symbolic victory: having Palestine recognized by as many countries as possible.

Israel has been trying to make this project fail with more energy than it has ever devoted to carving out an acceptable peace deal with the Palestinians. It uses every new event as an excuse to back out even more. The reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas was the latest event used by Netanyahu to justify a tougher stance – although the reconciliation has had a favorable response from France and the UK, the other country the Israeli Prime Minister will visit during his upcoming European trip.

Netanyahu will present a new political initiative in June. That's a good thing. Now it's his turn to play his cards right, especially the settlement one, which could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Photo - andydr

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Finally Time For Negotiations? Russia And Ukraine Have The Exact Same Answer

The war in Ukraine appears to have reached a stalemate, with neither side able to make significant progress on the battlefield. A number of Western experts and politicians are now pushing for negotiations. But the irreconcilable positions of both the Russian and Ukrainian sides make such negotiations tricky, if not impossible.

photo of : Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, presents a battle flag to a soldier as he kisses it

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky presents a battle flag to a soldier at the Kyiv Fortress, October 1, 2023.

Ukraine Presidency/Ukrainian Pre/Planet Pix via ZUMA
Yuri Fedorov


The Russian-Ukrainian war appears to have reached a strategic impasse — a veritable stalemate. Neither side is in a position at this point to achieve a fundamental change on the ground in their favor. Inevitably, this has triggered no shortage of analysts and politicians saying it's time for negotiations.

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These conversations especially intensified after the results of the summer-autumn counteroffensive were analyzed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhny, with not very optimistic details.

Though there are advances of the Ukrainian army, it is mostly “stuck in minefields under attacks from Russian artillery and drones,” and there is a increasing prospect of trench warfare that “could drag on for years and exhaust the Ukrainian state.”

Zaluzhny concluded: “Russia should not be underestimated. It suffered heavy losses and used up a lot of ammunition, but it will have an advantage in weapons, equipment, missiles and ammunition for a long time," he said. "Our NATO partners are also dramatically increasing their production capacity, but this requires at least a year, and in some cases, such as aircraft and control systems, two years.”

For the Ukrainian army to truly succeed, it needs air superiority, highly effective electronic and counter-battery warfare, new technologies for mining and crossing minefields, and the ability to mobilize and train more reserves.

China and most countries of the so-called global South have expressed their support for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Meanwhile in the West, certain influential voices are pushing for negotiations, guided by a purely pragmatic principle that if military victory is impossible, it is necessary to move on to diplomacy.

The position of the allies is crucial: Ukraine’s ability to fight a long war of attrition and eventually change the situation at the front in its favor depends on the military, economic and political support of the West. And this support, at least on the scale necessary for victory, is not guaranteed.

Still, the question of negotiations is no less complicated, as the positions of Russia and Ukraine today are so irreconcilable that it is difficult to imagine productive negotiations.

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