Newsweek has a piece about how French President Nicolas Sarkozy has “very publicly embraced the Jewish state,” enabling him to do some things Israeli leaders haven’t loved without appearing to be hostile to Israel. Among them: telling Israeli leaders that Jerusalem should also be the capital of a Palestinian state, giving Libyan dictator Muamar Gadhafi the red carpet treatment and welcoming Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, to Paris. Reporter Eic Pape writes:
It may be a canny approach, but it’s also a risky one. “Sarkozy in Israel acted as an intermediary who could be heard by both sides, and he is more listened to in Israel than his predecessors,” says Gilles Kepel, a Middle East scholar at Sciences Po in Paris and the author of “The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West.” “But the great difficulty is to not lose his capital in Arab countries. It is a balancing act that is very complex. It is a gamble.”
Meanwhile, David Singer of the Canada Free Press points out that making solid progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace front is a lot harder than bringing together the two countries’ leaders for a photo op, as Sarkozy did at his Union for the Mediterranean conference last week:
The images of President Sarkozy, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Mr Olmert smiling and enjoying a three way bear hug would have encouraged President Sarkozy into believing that he would be able to achieve the diplomatic breakthrough that had eluded the Quartet for the last 5 years…
Little did [French Foreign Minister Bernard] Kouchner – or President Sarkozy – imagine that the fundamental disagreements between Israel and the PA would be used by the PA to undermine the grand design of President Sarkozy to bring the nations of the Mediterranean and the European Union together in a new spirit of co-operation and joint venture.
The unfriendly wind Mr Kouchner had felt was shortly to blow away any hopes of an agreed summit position when the PA objected to the wording of the summit declaration.