Monday, April 27, 2009

How Do Avigdor Lieberman's Comments Affect Israel's Relations With Europe?

David Hazony suggests that the danger to Israel-European relations posed by Avigdor Lieberman's comments may not be all that great:
one wonders whether the damage to Israel’s relations with Europe is real at all. Over the last decade, European governments have largely shifted towards far greater support for Israel. The willingness of countries like Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Germany to boycott Durban II, alongside the most pro-Israel government France has had since the early 1960s, and the overtly friendly government in the Czech Republic, reflects a Europe that is the most heavily supportive of Israel in a very long time. Part of this may have something to do with Israel’s pulling out of Gaza in 2005, which made it politically easier for European leaders to soften their stances. But there are alternate explanations as well: the combination of 8 years of unflinching American solidarity with Israel, an increasing European awareness that its true enemies are the same Islamic extremists that Israel is fighting, and the actual rise of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the prospect of a nuclear Iran — all these have made a great many Europeans understand that pressuring Israel may hurt Europeans in the long run more than alienating the sources of their oil. If Europe once managed to present a united front in support of Israel’s concessions to the Palestinians, today Europe seems utterly divided. [emphasis added]
However, by the same token, those days of unflinching US support are over, and Obama does not seem to see the enemy as being Islamic extremists, and the threat of a nuclear Iran does not seem to phase the new US administration. Is the pendulum now swinging in a whole new direction?

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