A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is OECD Quid pro Quo for Proximity Talks?

This piece by Aluf Benn in Ha'aretz suggests that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) acceptance of Israeli membership may be a sort of quid pro quo for the beginning of proximity talks, and other concessions made by the Netanyahu government under pressure. The headline, OECD is one place where the occupation won't count," would seem to suggest that Israel doesn't really expect to have to deliver much more than the start of talks.

Given the overall pessimistic mood on both sides with the start of proximity talks yesterday, I'm not sure that's what the OECD intended to happen. If membership helps persuade Israel that, as a member of the industrial nations, it has a responsibility to move ahead with peace talks, fine. If on the other hand it sees OECD membership as somehow endorsing continued occupation, that seems to go against the whole idea of this being a carrot to persuade Israel to become a player in the Western industrial world. It's been reported that Israel will be the poorest OECD member, but in many ways it does qualify as an industrial nation, and if OECD membership gives it the confidence to take some risks for peace, I'd say fine. If it just gives it a fig leaf to have some proximity talks that lead nowhere, perhaps not so fine.

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