With Spanish Cabinet Reshuffled, Mideast Peace Camp Loses Crucial Advocate

During his career, Miguel Moratinos advanced from head of the Middle East department in Spain, to the embassy in Tel Aviv, to being appointed special EU envoy to the Middle East.

Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar
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Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar

No tears were shed in Jerusalem after a broad reshuffling of the Spanish cabinet saw Miguel Moratinos ousted from his position as foreign minister. It is no secret that Jerusalem has no interest in European involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and there is no European politician who understands the two sides better than this former diplomat, who rose to the most senior rank of the Spanish diplomatic service.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, left, looks at his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos, at a press conference at the French Consulate in Jerusalem, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010.Credit: AP

During his career, Moratinos advanced from head of the Middle East department in Spain, to the embassy in Tel Aviv, to being appointed special EU envoy to the Middle East. He was the only foreign observer in the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians at Taba in 2001.

When Moratinos was appointed Spanish foreign minister, he became in effect the super-envoy of the Europeans to the region. Obsessive about the peace process, he never missed an opportunity to visit Jerusalem, to evaluate the situation in the Muqata'a in Ramallah, or to speak with Assad in Damascus to see if he was interested in his mediation services.

In between, Moratinos kept busy with his French counterpart on a new plan that would extricate the peace talks from their present impasse.

It was certainly hard to keep Moratinos down. When Israeli doors were shut in his face, he found a way in through the window. When the Palestinians wanted to stop the talks, he convinced them to be patient. With his departure, the peace camp is losing a very important European advocate, probably the most important since the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991.

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