U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will tell Israel today that it faces increasing isolation in the region and that a failure to reenter peace negotiations with Palestine will do further harm. Since the wave of popular protests began that have swept the Arab world, Israel has lost two formerly stalwart allies in Egypt and Turkey. “It’s pretty clear that this dramatic time in the Middle East, where there have been so many changes, that it is not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated, and that’s what’s happening,” said Panetta on his way to Israel.
What’s the Big Idea?
Peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine face another moment of truth as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas returns from his bid for statehood at the United Nations. “If progress is not made soon, Obama administration officials fear that the street demonstrations in countries rocked by the Arab Spring could spread to the Palestinian territories, which have remained relatively tranquil.” Both sides have agreed to new rounds of negotiations but Israeli settlement construction on Palestinian territory shows no signs of stopping.