My International Relations course (4)

It’s week 6 on my course at the City Lit in central London entitled “International Relations And World Conflict”. This week, we discussed the situation in the Middle East. In one and a half hours, we didn’t solve the problem of the Arab-Israeli conflict but it was a very interesting discussion.

There was strong support for Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo in June 2009, but real disappointment that he hasn’t stood up to the Israelis more strongly in insisting on a freeze of illegal settlements. There was concern that Obama does not wish to press Israel too hard, partly because he fears losing support of the pro-Israel lobby in the US at a difficult time politically for Democrats, and partly because¬† he wants to keep Israel close in case America needs it to tackle Iran in the event of the latter moving closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon capability.

There was a recognition that Israel sees no compelling need for a peace settlement in current circumstances, since its tight blockage of Gaza and lengthy security wall around the West Bank means that effectively it has the defence situation under its control. There was a hope that, on the Palestinian side, Hamas would – like the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland, come to realise that it is not going to achieve its fundamental objective – annihilation of Israel – and so should renounce that objective and be brought into negotiations in pursuit of Two-State solution.

A key to peace in the Middle East is Iran which needs to cease using Hamas and Hezbollah as proxies to attempt the overthrow of Israel. But neither the United States nor Europe has any influence with Iran.  So Russia and China need to be brought into the picture and they will only agree to co-operate if some of their own objectives are supported by the West.

International relations is complicated and so interconnected.


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