Panetta: Israel Must Work to End Regional Isolation

Posted December 2nd, 2011 at 8:50 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has urged Israel to make diplomatic efforts to rebuild regional support and stop the Jewish state's growing isolation from traditional partners like Turkey and Egypt.

In remarks that he was due to deliver in Washington on Friday evening, Panetta said the United States continues to be committed to safeguarding Israel's security but that “Israel too, has a responsibility” to build regional support through “strong diplomacy.”

Panetta lamented that the peace process with the Palestinians has “effectively been put on hold.”

Turkey was the first Muslim state to recognize Israel in 1949, but relations worsened last year when Israeli commandos boarded an aid flotilla challenging a naval blockade of the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists.

Israeli-Egyptian relations soured in August when Israeli troops killed five Egyptian policemen while pursuing Palestinian gunmen who crossed into Israel from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and killed eight Israelis.

Israel also fears that if radical Islamist political parties like the Muslim Brotherhood make a strong showing in the latest elections, Egypt will annul the two countries' peace agreement.