The failure of Colin Powell’s Near-Eastern mission one more time proved that the old conflict cannot be settled by oneself. The United States made a serious mistake, while staking on Israel. And now, we all reap the fruits of this mistake. What was natural at the time of the Cold War, when the US supported Israel, while the USSR – the Arab world, cannot be acceptable now. Today, Russia manoeuvres between Arabs and Israelis. 10 years ago, BBC reports, foreign ministers of Russia and the US set down at the negotiating table. US Secretary of State, James Baker and USSR foreign minister, Alexandr Bessmertnykh launched a series of multilateral negotiations on Palestinian-Israeli settlement. Moscow and Washington were co-sponsors of the peaceful process, who tried to draw together positions of their allies – of Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians believed, especially at first, that Russia would as before defend their interests and its opinion will be considered. Though, for recent 10 years, Russia’s voice became less loud and confident. Palestinians are disappointed with Russia’s inactivity and expect from it a more active participation in settling of the crisis. “We want to see a more clear and practical contribution of Russia. We want to see not only American, but also Russian initiatives. It is only a propaganda, that Russia has become a weak country. It has enough power and means to influence Israel,” – Palestinian representative to Russia, doctor Khairi Al Oraidi said. Though, recently Moscow prefers to be neutral, and there are reasons for it. The years of the Cold War are over, so resources which fed ideological opposition ran out. The war on terrorism and the endless Chechen campaign also brought their fruits. Political elite of the country has different sympathies and differently considers Russia’s role in the peaceful settlement in the Middle East. For the time being, Russia tries to keep for itself possibility of a political manoeuvres, towards both Palestinians and Israelis. Russia still has strength firm relations with the Arab world. Though its relations with Israel are also good. War on terrorism – for Russia, it is being carried in Chechnya, while for Israel – on the territory of Palestinian Autonomy – also furthers relations between these two countries, Alexei Malashenko said, expert on Middle East from Moscow Karnegy Institute. While ex-Russian ambassador to Israel, Alexandr Bovin is even more flat as for his appraisals of Russian influence upon Middle East. “The status of Russia as of the peaceful process’s sponsor long ago became only a formality. As the USSR was collapsed, we occupied ourselves only with our own problems, and stopped our active participation in settling the crisis. We can advise, only being asked, though we cannot make the sides follow our advise,” – he supposes. But, if not Russia and the US, who then? Probably, EU or UN? As for the latter, it seems to have awaken and it is ready to send a special group of its representatives to the refugee camp in Jenin. This decision was supported by all members of the Security Council. Earlier, it was noticed that the US delegation intended to block that decision, though finally, under the US pressure, the word “investigation” was cancelled from the resolution. It was changed to a more vague determination “gathering of information about what happens in the camp.” The question is about the camp of Palestinian refugees, where for almost two weeks Israeli sub-units carried out an operation which caused serious conflicts with Palestinians. Special representative of UN Secretary General on Middle East, Terje Larson said Thursday, that the camp looks like “after an earthquake,” in other words, it is seriously destroyed. “Humanitarian situation in the Jenin camp is worsening every hour, - Larson said, - and it has horrible shapes.” According to BBC correspondent Greg Barrow, the resolution became the result of delicate diplomatic manoeuvres: on one hand, it almost fully satisfies initial demands of the Arab states, while on the other hand, it does not make Israel be afraid of meddling in its policy by the politically motivated investigation. It is too early to speak about political defeat of Israel before the world community. The observers are not peace-makers possessing an UN mandate which must stop illegal activities of the both sides of the conflicts. Up to this moment, Israelis said they would not admit any multinational peace-maker contingent, and they would at least receive US observers. So, diplomatic war just starts.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/20/40031.html