France is in turmoil. “Migrants” arriving from Africa and the Middle East sow disorder and insecurity in many cities. The huge slum commonly known as the “jungle of Calais” has just been dismantled, but other slums are being created each day. In eastern Paris, streets have been covered with corrugated sheets, oilcloth and disjointed boards. Violence is commonplace. France’s 572 “no-go zones,” officially defined as “sensitive urban areas”, continue to grow, and police officers who approach them often suffer the consequences. Recently, a police car drove into an ambush and was torched while the police were prevented from getting out. If attacked, police officers are told by their superiors to flee rather than retaliate. Many police officers, angry at having to behave like cowards, have organized demonstrations. No terrorist attacks have taken place since the slaughter of a priest in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on July 26, 2016, but intelligence services see that jihadists have returned from the Middle East and are ready to act, and that riots may break out anywhere, any time, on any pretext.
Although overwhelmed by a domestic situation it barely controls, the French government still intervenes in the world affairs: a “Palestinian state” is still its favorite cause, Israel its favorite scapegoat.
Last Spring, even though both France and the Palestinian territories were in terrible shape, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault anyway declared that it was “urgent” to relaunch the “peace process” and create a Palestinian state. France therefore convened an international conference, held in Paris on June 3. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians were invited to it. The conference was a flop. It concluded with a vapid statement about the “imperative necessity” to go “forward.”
France did not stop there. The government then decided to organize a new conference in December. This time, with Israel and the Palestinians. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, noting that Israel does not need intermediaries, refused the invitation. Palestinian leaders accepted. Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority spokesman congratulated France, adding, not surprisingly, that the Palestinian Authority had “suggested” the idea to the French.
Now Donald Trump is the U.S. president-elect, and Newt Gingrich is likely to play a key role in the Trump Administration. Gingrich said a few years ago that there is no such a thing as a Palestinian people, and added last week that settlements are in no way an obstacle to peace. As such, the December conference looks as if it might be another failure.
French diplomats nevertheless are working with Palestinian officials on a UN resolution to recognize a Palestinian State inside the “1967 borders” (the 1949 armistice lines), but without any peace treaty. They are apparently hoping that outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama will not use the American veto at the Security Council, allowing the passage of the resolution. It is not certain at all that Barack Obama will want to end his presidency on a gesture so openly subversive. It is almost certain that France will fail there too. Again. Continue reading