Rapid’s whirlwind tour shows the world a different Israel


Yair Lapid, the founder of Israel’s new coalition government, has only been in office for 4 weeks and spent most of his time overseas, indicating that Benjamin Netanyahu is in power. After 12 years, I am determined to set a new tone for diplomatic relations.

Since the eight-party coalition voted last month, Foreign Minister Rapide opened the first Israeli embassy in the UAE, flew to Rome to negotiate with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken, traveled to Amman for talks with his Jordanian counterparts and to the EU in Brussels The foreign minister delivered a speech.

Rapide said in Brussels on Monday: “It’s been too long-there is a new government, new energy, let us start a new beginning,” Rapide is the first official statement to the European Council of Foreign Affairs in more than a decade. Israeli officials speaking.

“Israel shares interests with the EU, but more importantly, it shares values ​​with the EU,” he added, citing human and LGBT rights, climate crisis, terrorism and democratic touchstones such as press freedom, a strong civil society and free religion .

Rapid is a centrist former TV reporter, a key figure in bringing the different alliances together, and united solely to overthrow Netanyahu’s desire. The European Union sent an invitation to Rapide. He responded positively and visited. European officials have not forgotten that they have long been frustrated with Netanyahu’s policies regarding settlements in the West Bank, Iran and European internal politics.

May’s conflict in Gaza also triggered condemnation of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It is unclear what substantive changes will occur. But Joseph Borrell, the head of EU foreign policy, said on Monday: “We have the opportunity to restart and strengthen our bilateral relations.”

Rapid (left) meets with US Secretary of State Anthony Brinken in Rome, Italy, June 27 © Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

A European diplomat added: “Netanyahu’s absence is a huge opportunity [on a wide variety of issues]Many years later, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the leadership of Rapide became the center of power again.”

The Israeli government, known as the “Alliance for Change,” is also trying to repair relations with the U.S. Democratic Party in Washington, downplaying the public’s differences over the Iranian nuclear issue, and stressing its willingness to make progress on the Palestinian conflict.

Senior Israeli officials met with representatives of all the friends of China and ASEAN, which showed to the Israeli public that Netanyahu has life afterwards. Netanyahu signed a peace agreement with some of them and was in the election campaign. Boasting of being an “union outside the alliance” on the world stage.

According to Axios, after the King of Jordan and Netanyahu were out of touch for many years, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett secretly met with King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman last week.

Netanyahu is notorious for monopolizing all foreign policy decisions and using populist governments in Eastern and Central Europe to divide the European Union and prevent any criticism of Israel.

Yail Netanyahu, the former prime minister’s son and political adviser, called the EU an “enemy of Israel” and an “evil globalist organization”, and wished right-wing figures such as Nigel Farage, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders Good luck in the election.

The Israeli government is very clear that it does not want to give up its relationship with the nationalist government; Bennett recently spoke with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the contrary, according to a senior Israeli government official, the method is to “expand our alliance and cooperate with a wider range of countries.”

Israeli analysts pointed out that Netanyahu’s strong opposition to the U.S. Democratic Party’s strong support for Donald Trump and his public indifference with Barack Obama are examples of choosing expedient allies rather than Israel’s long-term interests. One.

“He believes that as long as he stays in power, he can control any consequences, and he or Israel will not pay the price,” said Tarshalev, a political correspondent for Wala News.

Israel under Bennett still opposes the return of the United States to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but the prime minister has vowed that the disagreement with Washington will be handled in secret.

Nevertheless, international officials are very clear that the Palestine-Israel conflict will continue to be an obstacle to improving foreign relations with certain countries.

“Credible contacts and stronger relations with Israel need to restore the path to peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians… the same,” Borrell said, while talking about the “special composition” of the new Israeli government. head.

The League of Israel covers the ideological realm, including pro-settler figures such as Bennett, ultra-nationalists (who have advocated annexation of the West Bank in the past), centrists (such as Rapid), left-wing groups, and Arab parties. As part of the alliance agreement, Lapid will succeed Bennett as prime minister. He touted his support for a two-state solution in Brussels, although he acknowledged that a breakthrough is unlikely in the short term.

“nobody [in this government] Any major steps are being taken on the question of Palestine, such as [West Bank] Mergers, new settlements, or for that matter final status peace negotiations,” said a senior Israeli official. “But there is room for progress and a more positive environment. “

Western officials are encouraged by the new government’s willingness to take practical steps to improve the economic conditions and stability of the West Bank and Gaza.

In recent weeks, Israel has provided 1 million Covid-19 vaccines to the Palestinian Authority (the Palestinians later rejected the vaccine), agreed to strengthen trade relations between Jordan and the West Bank, and signed an expanded water resource agreement with Jordan. And resumed the joint ministerial economic project with the Palestinian Authority-all the steps Netanyahu refused to take. Several people briefed on the plan said that the Joe Biden government is expected to advocate for the strengthening of the Palestinian business sector in the West Bank and reduce friction between Israeli security forces and the Palestinians.

Whether these efforts will be sufficient to prevent another military escalation in Gaza or unrest in the West Bank is unclear. A major test of the new government will be its policy of the eviction of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem and the construction of settlements in the West Bank.

“There is optimism [regarding the Israeli government] But within a set of very realistic parameters,” the European diplomat added. “This is a diverse alliance with extreme differences. The question is what can such an alliance bear. ”

Additional report by Valentina Pop in Brussels



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