Miguel Mortinus was a major player in the late 1990s, as the EU's envoy to the Middle East • In an interview with him, while visiting the Mishkenot Sha'ananim festival, he clarifies why, despite the political disconnect, he is optimistic. With Netanyahu
"US involvement in the Middle East is necessary, but it should not be the only one." Miguel Mortinus
Oren Ben Hakun
Also from his new role as UN High Representative in the Cultural Forum, Miguel Angel Martinus does not agree to be pessimistic about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Martinos, a name that employed Israelis two decades ago as one of the important mediators between the parties and as the EU's special envoy to the region between 1996 and 2003, returned to Israel last week as a guest of the "All About Spain" festival, held at Mishkenot Sha'ananim in Jerusalem.
He says that returning to Israel is accompanied by positive emotions. "It is a great pleasure to come back here and meet people from Israeli society, which is so dynamic," he says, noting that the leap to Jerusalem has provided him with "an opportunity to see Palestinian leaders as well."
Moratinos, 68, is considered a staunch supporter of a two-state solution, and has even expressed himself on the issue during his tenure as Spain's foreign minister during Prime Minister Sapatro's (2004-2011) term. Years before, he served as Spanish ambassador to Israel, and after leaving the post of Foreign Minister in 2010, he was appointed special representative to thaw the crisis between Israel and Egypt.
The approaches brought by Martinus, of the two-state solution and of constant dialogue, now seem, with the naked eye, to the border of naïve - especially to Israeli eyes. Since 2014, there has been no direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the political mediators, Martin's successors, find themselves ineffective.
Is Martinus still optimistic about the ongoing stagnation when he was? It seems so. "In history, there are moments when things are moving forward, and there are moments when things get stuck," he says. "In a time when I was more directly involved, there was a lot of efforts and initiatives between the parties, and despite everything, progress was recorded. I always try to be optimistic and positive. On the one hand, there are elections in Israel, and on the other, requests for elections in the Palestinian Authority, and when both parties complete these procedures and accept their people's wishes, I hope leaders will face historic responsibility to renew their efforts to find a solution, and the international community must push in that direction. You have to negotiate. "
The Palestinians are split between Gaza and the West, and without elections since 2006. In Israel, the withdrawal from Gaza has shown that territorial concessions do not help security, and the sight is thousands of Hamas and jihad rockets that violate the routine of living in the south. Hasn't peace been missed already?
"We must look objectively at what has happened, and find solutions that will have broad consensus in both companies. There is a trend that says that after the withdrawal from Gaza it is more difficult to withdraw from other places, but one cannot forget that the withdrawal from Gaza was made unilaterally, and without any agreement with Palestinian Authority. "
This situation means that the Israelis, and perhaps the Palestinians, are no longer pessimistic about an agreement, but indifferent.
"Everyday reality on the ground leads to pessimism, but politicians have a responsibility to change it. I still think that Israelis and Palestinians want peace, with each party defending its own interests and red lines. The path to resolution is political and diplomatic. Hard? Yes. Necessary and urgent? Also. Otherwise we will end up in a more dangerous situation. Today, the dangers may not be felt and everything seems calm, but anyone who knows the Middle East knows that at any moment, if there is no consensus solution - quiet can turn into hell within 24 hours. "
Isolate the rais
Martinus finds that in all rounds of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, an agreement between the parties was close to being signed. "The Golden Age was, of course, in the 1990s, with the meeting between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, but even during Prime Minister Barak's and Foreign Minister Ben-Ami's close proximity to the agreement. I remember that we almost touched our fingers at the Taba Conference, because we reached an agreement on "We worked almost according to President Clinton's parameters after the Camp David summit."
"Tough attitude." Sharon // Photo: AFP
Moratinos believes that the EU's public image, especially in the Middle East, is doing an injustice to the organization. "We always say that the EU is only giving money, but we have done a lot politically. One of the successes of the EU was to save the Palestinian Authority. After the harsh terrorist attacks, Eric Sharon decided to isolate Arafat in the Muqata. We knew that we would give proper support and allow future talks to be held. Arafat was looking for support and determined not to surrender. I experienced it in Muqata, when there were tanks outside and the loudspeaker declared: 'Get out, give in.' This is not a movie, but things I saw with my own eyes. "
And what did Sharon tell you?
"Arafat had a tough attitude toward Arafat. He thought the Palestinian citizen could work and move forward financially. But I never saw a desire for a peace process."
Is it true that he told you that Israel was listening to the Rais talks in Muqata?
"It was known, but it is a bit part of the diplomatic game. I did not talk about it with Arafat and it did not affect the content of the talks."
Did you serve as a secret dialogue channel between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Syrian President Hafez Assad?
"I had a period of supposedly confidential negotiations between Israel and Syria - in which progress was made that there was confidence and a desire to examine the issue, after the negotiations between Israel and Syria ceased during the Rabin era. The goal was to see how conversations could be resumed. We made progress, but that was not possible. "
"Preceded the elections in Israel, and the thought was that after them - there would be more maneuverability. But in the end Barak won."
You were one of the diplomats who knew Netanyahu well. How do you see him over the years?
"I have a personal relationship with the prime minister, we have always had mutual respect even though we were often divided. He always emphasized the importance of economic peace to achieve political peace, but I always insisted that without political peace it was difficult to achieve economic peace. A little late in the schedule of the Oslo Accords, but he signed the Hebron agreement. We must not forget what that means for the Likud leader. Gaza is one thing, and the recognition that some of the West Bank could be a future Palestinian state - is another. have received".
Today, Netanyahu is politically different.
"He is different because his government components are different, and the overall situation has also changed."
"Union must be present"
The "All About Spain" festival sought to celebrate, among other things, the Israeli-Spanish relationship, since the establishment of Israel-Spain relations on January 17, 1986. In general, this period is defined as a resounding success, even if suspicion has never disappeared - because of Spain's stance on the conflict. However, Martinus also agrees on the strength of friendship. "We have come a long way together, but the potential is even greater. There is mutual respect between the countries. "
Can the new agreement between the new government in Spain and the radical left-wing party "Podmus" affect the relationship between Israel and Spain?
"No. Spain has an international role; we have power in the G-20 conference and influence in Europe, so we must maintain our country's diplomacy. But that does not mean there will be a serious and positive stance on Israel and the Middle East, which reflects the opinion of most Spaniards. Pedro Sanchez has proven to be a friend of Israel. "
Why does the international community actually have to recognize a Palestinian state?
"I support the UN position for the two-state solution. One country, Israel, has already received recognition, so why should we wait to recognize the other? When Uncle Ben-Gurion sent the letter to the United Nations in May '48 for recognition of the State of Israel, he did a legitimate and unilateral act, and the international community recognized it, which was the reality. Why should a Palestinian state wait for negotiations? The 1999 EU declaration in Berlin told Arafat that it was not yet time to recognize the State of Palestine, but that would be the right time. I think the situation is complicated and difficult and must be negotiated on borders, territories, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements. This is not a decision against Israel, but a search for a mechanism for definitive and positive negotiations. "
What advice would you give to a European mediator who comes to Israel and the Palestinian Authority?
"Mostly - both parties must accept the responsibility for dialogue, but then the international community must accompany them. One mediator alone is not enough; the complexity of international relations requires everyone to participate in the escort mission. Of course, US involvement is necessary, but it does not have to Be the only one. The EU must be present. US policy today is very much tied to the Israeli government, and because of that, it has no results yet. "
A few days ago, in London, there was an Islamist attack. You are currently the High Representative of the Cultural Alliance Forum. Are jihad attacks in Europe a "civil clash"?
"What this is is a clash of ignorance and political interests. Use religion and cultures disgracefully to justify political aspirations. The entry of religious debate in the European square, as happened in France and other countries, is accompanied by political aspirations by groups that use the non-acceptance to increase their electoral base." .
What operative decisions do you promote in the forum?
"We are working on prevention - education and information programs for young people, of course in full communication of the media. The three monotheistic religions must live together."
This is not the situation on the ground, anti-Semitism is only intensifying.
"There is no doubt that there is intensification in anti-Semitism and must be vigilant. We must be very attentive. Unfortunately, anti-Semitism continues to grow, not only in Europe. We must show zero tolerance for it."