Financial crises and changes of leadership in Israel and the US have been pushing the Middle East down the agenda in recent weeks, but diplomatic exchanges at the weekend suggest the region has not been forgotten.
The French Foreign Minister raised eyebrows by saying that “everyone knows Israel will attack Iran before the Islamic Republic can get its hands on a nuclear bomb”. He urged Israel not to do this.
Bernard Kouchner then praised out-going Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for saying recently that a peace deal is necessary and would require a withdrawal from nearly all the occupied territories.
Kouchner called it a courageous and exceptional statement.
He added: “I have no doubt that my friend Tzipi Livni will become the prime minister who leads to peace and the creation of a Palestinian state.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Livni will replace Olmert at the head of the government if and when she completes the process of putting together a new coalition government.
She said on Sunday the peace negotiations with the Palestinians will continue and urged those involved not to let timeframes or political changes stand in the way.
Meanwhile acting leader Olmert will travel to Moscow on Monday for Israel’s first top level talks with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.