Bush’s Dying Days in Gaza

In the days before Barack Obama takes office, while a power vacuum persists in the US, the EU has a unique role to play in international initiatives to end the violence and the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza. To succeed, it must pursue the policy launched by the French presidency, giving priority to a ceasefire and distancing itself from Israel’s disproportionate use of force.

PARIS – During a visit to the Middle East, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned that enemies of the United States should not use the power vacuum there to try to alter the status quo or to undermine the new American president’s objectives. But the major challenge in this respect is now coming, ironically enough, from America’s main ally in the region, Israel.

Hardliners in Israel naturally regret the end of the Bush administration, for they know that, even if President Barack Obama does not dramatically change US policy toward Israel once he assumes power, he will not repeat Bush’s unconditional support.

Israeli hardliners saw the “war on terror” and the war in Iraq as their wars, supported Bush’s war-like rhetoric and isolation of Iran, and considered the neo-conservatives their ideological kin. In particular, they shared the neo-cons’ conviction that military intervention is a legitimate and effective way of achieving political change. This is what the Israeli government tried to achieve in Lebanon by “smashing Hezbollah” in 2006. Now it is trying to do the same in Gaza.

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