|Riot police in Egypt arrested a demonstrator near the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Saturday, the day after protesters raided a building (Mohamed Hossam/AFP/Getty Images)|
US frets over Mideast allies’ relations
Stability at risk as Palestinians ready bid for statehood
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is watching warily as relations among its allies Israel, Egypt, and Turkey deteriorate, threatening Mideast stability and US goals for the region.
The simultaneous trouble between the Jewish state and two Muslim nations that have been a security and diplomatic bulwark for Israel comes as the Palestinians prepare to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations this month.
The UN action, which the United States has fought without success, is likely to further complicate peace efforts, leave Israel even more isolated, and force the Obama administration into the uncomfortable position of appearing to side with Israel over other allies and partners.
Egypt and Turkey are expected to side with the Palestinians on the statehood bid, leaving the United States and only a few other nations taking Israel’s side.
An Israeli Cabinet minister said yesterday that his government is making “every effort’’ to prevent the United Nations from voting in favor of statehood, but acknowledged it is fighting a losing battle.
Gilad Erdan said Israel was urging other governments to vote against the unilateral statehood bid, saying Palestinian independence can be reached only through negotiations.
Erdan, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, will be part of Israel’s delegation to the session of the UN General Assembly.
The Palestinian initiative would be largely symbolic. The United States has already said it will exercise its veto in the Security Council, the powerful body that must support full membership. But the Palestinians hope the high-profile maneuvering might yield results that have eluded them through decades of peace talks, popular uprisings, and violence campaigns.
After the statehood vote, the Palestinians are expected to apply for “nonmember state’’ status in the broader General Assembly, which is virtually certain to be approved.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, yesterday urged a return to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. She discussed the issue in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr. She said European countries have differing views on the Palestinian UN initiative and the EU has not taken a position.
A flurry of weekend phone calls among President Obama, his top national security aides, and their Israeli, Egyptian, and regional counterparts over Friday’s assault on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo underscored US concerns about developments in the region.
The attack may have jeopardized the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, which has been a bedrock of Mideast stability for three decades. Along with the Egypt-Israel concerns, US officials worry about recent tough talk from Turkey about the slide in its relations with Israel.