A new position paper, which echoes previous statements by EU negotiators and leaders, urges the EU to adopt a more confrontational approach toward Jerusalem.
A top European think tank is urging the European Union to take concrete measures to keep open a window for the two-state solution. The report, published two weeks ago, urges European countries to exempt settlements goods from Israeli-European trade agreements, to refrain from contacts with the West Bank’s new university in Ariel and even impose visa requirements on settlers.
The report (PDF), published by the Middle East-North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations and written by Senior Policy Fellow Nick Witney, claims that European support for the Palestinian Authority has created “a culture of dependence,” while removing the occupation’s financial burden from Israel. Due to Israeli restrictions and past agreements which prevented real economic developments, “state building efforts have reached a dead end,” the paper states.
Similar suggestions were raised in April by former European leaders and negotiators in a letter to EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton. Both the letter and the ECFR paper recognize the diplomatic vacuum created by the U.S.’s inability to confront Israeli governments over the occupation, and urge EU action.
The ECFR paper has a couple of interesting observations. First, it recognizes that the political elites in Europe, and not the public, are at the heart of the problem. While the European public is more and more sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians under occupation, EU foreign policy is “on autopilot,” sticking to the Oslo paradigm and framework, even when it’s clear that it serves to maintain the status quo (one could claim that this is the opposite of the American problem, where popular support for Israeli policy remains high even as the elites are beginning to question it). The paper cites economic interests – Israel being an important trade partner of many states – and successful lobbying efforts by Jerusalem as possible explanations for the lack of coherent and unified action by the EU.
The paper also recognizes the failure of positive incentives vis-à-vis Jerusalem:
The ECFR doesn’t have a unified position and the new paper only represents the opinion of its authors, and not that of...Read More