What is astonishing in what is happening in the Middle East, bereaved by a murderous, asymmetrical and existential conflict, as it may seem to be for the two belligerents, Hamas and Israel, is the glaring absence of will of the world powers to establish a saving peace process there.
However, it is on such a political and diplomatic process that any hope of charting a salutary path in this tumult and endless carnage can rest.
As luck would have it, the most important peace process ever completed between Palestinians and Israelis was the Oslo Accords. These agreements, which saw the light of day in 1993, were buried by an extremely fanatic Israeli far-right movement, one of whose sinister leaders was none other than the current Prime Minister of the apartheid state: Benjamin Netanyahu.
The latter campaigned against these agreements in a context of very high tensions, caused by the racist far right to which he belongs, which benefited greatly from the assassination of one of their main promoters: Itzhak Rabin. His political assassination, committed by an Israeli student, caused the final destruction of the peace negotiations.
Of course, the Palestinian national movement was itself undermined by tensions, dissensions and other internal rivalries which resulted in the rise of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
This reminder has no other purpose than to show that even if the promoters of the Oslo Accords came from the parties primarily concerned (the Israelis and the Palestinians), and even if there will always be objective obstacles to hinder any peace process, such as the status of Jerusalem, the question of Palestinian refugees or even the Israeli colonies in the West Bank, we do not understand why world powers, such as the European Union and the United States, today refuse to sponsor a new peace process.
The incomprehension is all the greater given their culpable inertia as it has always been a tradition, particularly in the United States, to regularly initiate processes of this kind. I’m obviously not talking about the former Carter and Clinton administrations.
What is surprising is that even the former Bush administration, which was seriously compromised in the war in Iraq, which was extremely devastating and unpopular in Arab countries, was able to organize the Annapolis conference in 2007 which formalized the notion of the “two-state solution” as part of the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
What explains the current American administration’s inability to do the same, other than to preserve the prestige of the United States and its status in the world?
It goes without saying that the gap between the Deep South and the Western world has widened in the bloody, dramatic wake of this conflict in the Middle East. It would have been a priority for the Biden Administration to throw all its weight into reestablishing dialogue between the two parties, through a diplomatic initiative which would have promoted a certain stability, while opening the way towards a peace process.
It is difficult to explain such strategic lethargy by citing electoral considerations or the influence of the pro-Israeli lobby, because this administration still had time to carry out such an initiative, well before the Hamas attack on October 7.
No one would have protested against a great peace initiative, especially since things were starting to spiral out of control with the rise to power of the far right in Israel, the acceleration of Israeli colonization and the increase acts of violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
A peace process would have been a “minimum requirement” to prevent the situation from becoming inextricable and uncontrollable, as is unfortunately the case today.
However, the United States, imbued with the Wilsonian ideal, were the first to demand a transcendence of democracy and international law over national interests in all foreign policy.
What then of the European Union and its flagship countries, in particular the two locomotives that are France and Germany? It is clear that they have also done nothing to promote a peace initiative between Palestinians and Israelis, despite their extensive experience in this area in the Middle East, their laudable positions condemning Israeli colonization, and their support financial and development agreement in favor of the Palestinian Authority.
There remain the new powers, such as Russia and China, which are emerging countries. Although they do not have the experience of the European Union and the United States in terms of peace initiatives in the Middle East, they nevertheless have their say. It may seem logical to assert that these new powers are not strong enough to impose a peace process, far from their areas of influence in the world.
But the world has become multipolar, and that’s where the problem lies. The United States and Europe are seeing their influence diminish and are striving to face significant adversaries in several theaters of operation (Sahel, Middle East, South-East Asia).
Countries in the Middle East are observing with concern the rise of threats which are becoming, for them, existential. They seek, with the goodwill of world powers, to form alliances to thwart them. This is how the Palestinian cause no longer constitutes the cement of relations between Arab countries, which fear “the Iranian threat” more than anything.
The world has therefore entered a new era where strategic alliances predominate: the alliance between the United States, Israel and Europe which stands against the Iran-China-Russia axis. The world today resembles Europe before the First World War, when it was plagued by rigid coalitions, which caused the historic cataclysm we know.
Let’s not forget that Saudi Arabia was on the verge of an alliance with Israel, just before the unprecedented Hamas attack called everything into question.
This is how we can trace the strategic initiatives of the former Trump administration, which launched a series of so-called Abrahamic agreements. These are actually normalization agreements between a group of Arab countries like Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco and Israel.
We can thus clearly see that coalitions between a group of Arab countries and Israel have begun to form to face other coalitions bringing together Iran, Russia and China. Countries like North Korea and Qatar moved closer to the latter coalition, while Europe, Japan and India joined the former.
Faced with this world of selfish alliances, dictated solely by strategic and security considerations, the Palestinian cause and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process have unfortunately been put in the drawers. They are no longer a priority in this world of dangerous coalitions.
Both Israel and the United States closely monitor the Iran-China-Russia alliance, viewing Hezbollah and Hamas as mere “proxies” for Iran. These countries only react to security considerations, having a narrow view of their national interest.
It is for this reason that the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea made them react very quickly. The United States was the first to draw. They then announced, on December 18, the formation of a coalition of ten countries (Bahrain, Canada, Spain, United States, France, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Seychelles) called “Prosperity Guardian” .
Then, Europe announced that the 27 member states of the European Union were going to join this military Coalition in the Red Sea.
The European Union will contribute to the Coalition announced by the United States using Mission Atalanta, which is a military and diplomatic operation initiated by France and implemented by the EU within the framework of the European Naval Force (Eunavfor ).
We can clearly see how coalitions act in the face of direct threats and make no attempt to address the root causes of conflicts like that in the Middle East.
Thus, despite the seriousness of this conflict, the scale of the humanitarian crisis caused by Israeli offensives in a completely encircled territory, the countries of the region and the world powers are adopting a wait-and-see and observing posture and not common action to end the conflict. world of this terrible tragedy.
The multipolar world corners the formerly regulatory powers, imposing their ideals and principles, according to the Wilsonian vision, in a power game based on alliances directed against other alliances.
The war in Ukraine has reinforced this state of affairs. The United States and Europe created a sort of transatlantic alliance against Russia and sought to unite the rest of the world within this alliance. In this wake, the Deep South has taken the full measure of the West’s “double standards” policy regarding geopolitical events in the world.
When the EU urged the countries of the Deep South to support its condemnation of Russian military operations in Ukraine, while calls from the international community to be outraged and sanction serious violations of international humanitarian law by Israel in Gaza were not met. found no echo, neither on the Old Continent nor in the United States, the Deep South understood that there was no global and multilateral policy, but simply alliances and coalitions directed against countries or other alliances.
It was then that most African countries surprised Europe during the UN General Assembly vote on “Aggression in Ukraine” in March 2023, by abstaining from voting. These same countries are today looking at Europe, completely paralyzed, to take a clear position in order to put an end to the genocidal massacre by the Israeli army of the Palestinian population in Gaza.
This whole situation has created a world where an immense gap is inexorably widening between the Great South and the countries of the North, crossed by a web of security alliances which will not guarantee peace and global security, quite the contrary… They will contribute to increasing tensions between the members of these antagonistic alliances. The United States-Europe-Israel-India axis against the China-Russia-Iran axis.
This is a situation comparable in every way to the state of Europe before the First World War, when the Triple Alliance, made up of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy against France, pushed to ally with Russia and the United Kingdom to form the Triple Entente.
Thus, everything converges towards global instability in the absence of a real collective security system with the formation of security alliances. This is really what allows neither the United States, nor Europe, nor emerging countries to be interested in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although it is tragic and problematic for world security.
Between the defunct bipolar world, which has completely disappeared, and the advent of the new multipolar world, the conflict in the Middle East has become a “prehistoric” problem on a global chessboard where each country only seeks to preserve its interests and its survival, while the old powers strive by all means to stem their strategic decline.