In the wake of US President George W. Bush's reelection, Washington and the European Union are set to mend fences by launching a joint initiative to jumpstart the drive for a Palestinian state in the heartland of biblical Israel.
The effort is being driven by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who sees American support for the swift implementation of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict as the best means to heal rifts created in Europe by the war in Iraq.
Blair wants Bush to make the Middle East 'peace' process the focus of his second term.
Alongside Blair's maneuvering, EU foreign policy czar Javier Solana last week released his own 'action plan' aimed at using Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza retreat to revitalize stalled implementation of the Middle East Road Map.
Sharon has insisted the Gaza pullout is a unilateral move being taken because there is no partner on the Palestinian side, and that the Road Map, while still accepted by Israel, must be temporarily frozen until the Arabs stop murdering Jews.
The EU, meanwhile, is said to be drafting plans to deploy a peacekeeping force to the Gaza Strip following Israel's withdrawal, making future IDF anti-terror incursions next to impossible.
Israel on the chopping block?
The American-led war in Iraq has created deep rifts between Washington and its British ally and the rest of Europe.
Following Bush's reelection last week, Blair made it clear the president's second term must be focused on healing those rifts by making common cause of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
'I have long argued that the need to revitalize the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today,' Blair told reporters at 10 Downing Street last Wednesday.
Coming dangerously close to using the so-called 'Israeli occupation' to legitimize Muslim violence, Blair urged relentlessness in both 'our war against terrorism and in resolving the conditions and causes on which the terrorists prey.'
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