The Arab-European Union peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians is not the only one aired. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Middle East experts see early signs of European willingness to make a Middle East comeback that does not depend on its traditional unquestioning backing for the Palestinian cause, but seeks a posture that with some adjustments could provide a common denominator for collaboration with Washington in the region.
The Europeans are sending out more than one feeler for reconciliation with Washington. German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said his government might be willing in some circumstances to help the United States in Iraq; French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin has said his government might also take part in Iraqi security, although only after American forces pull out. Neither statement is quite what the Americans want to hear from Berlin and Paris after their resistance to the Iraq war, but they do point to a new European openness to dialogue at the very least. Already afloat are a number of plans and ideas on ways of using the Bush administration’s successes in Libya and Sudan as a fulcrum for renewing the transatlantic partnership in the Middle East and Africa.
One idea the administration may be weighing, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington, would be to use one of the international events scheduled for the coming summer, such as the NATO Istanbul summit in June, as a platform for launching a new joint US-European Middle East peace initiative that will also embrace North Africa. Regional countries would be encouraged to promote democracy at home and the war on terror by a promise of American-European economic assistance. This plan would encapsulate Europe’s admission that George W. Bush‘s drive to democratize Muslim societies is feasible and that the two concepts are not mutually contradictory. Washington would view it as Europe’s tacit recognition of the justice of America’s actions in Iraq as well as Libya and Sudan and willingness to move forward together on the acceptance of Turkey to the European fold – a process already in train – and the process for achieving an Israel-Palestinian peace.