The EU has become effectively paralyzed in its ability to react to and meaningfully impact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A recent visit by Arab members of Knesset represents an opportunity for both the EU and civil society in Israel to engage in new ways.
By Nimrod Goren
The EU quite frequently expresses criticism over Israeli policies and legislation that damage prospects of achieving the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts or that run counter to the principles of democracy and human rights. Israel’s recent Jewish Nation-State Law ties both aspects together – it contradicts the value of equality that appears in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, and it places additional obstacles on the path to a future peace agreement. EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini emphasized this in her recent public statements, as well as in her decision to meet a delegation of Arab members of Knesset from the Joint List, which arrived in Brussels to protest the Nation State Law earlier this month.
In recent years, the EU has found it increasingly difficult to have an impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Internal divisions and differences of opinions among member states – especially between those in western and northern Europe and those in central and eastern Europe – have prevented meaningful decisions on the topic in the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council since 2016. The split within the EU has become evident even in UN votes, such as the vote regarding the U.S. decision to relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to deepen these divisions and to leverage them to his benefit. He recently stated this in public, on his way to a visit in Lithuania. Israel under his leadership is trying to limit the EU’s ability to reach the consensus needed to make decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is doing so by fostering alliances with various groupings of European countries – the Visegrad group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland), the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia), the Hellenic states (Cyprus and Greece), and next in line may be the Balkan states. This is done in parallel to growing criticism of the EU by top Israeli ministers, often including insults and portrayals of the EU – Israel’s largest trade partner – as a rival rather than a friend and partner.
The EU has not yet found effective policy solutions to these developments. It...Read More