The EU’s ‘Conclusions’ on the Arab-Israeli conflict just don’t add up
December 19, 2012
On Dec. 10, the European Union released its “Council Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process,” a report that outlines its updated view on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Aside from the usual critical tilt that has become expected of anything coming out of the EU, the report exhibited a deep lack of understanding of what is actually happening in the conflict.
For one, there’s the criticism the report levies against Israel’s E1 construction project, between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ma'aleh Adumim. The report says, “The E1 plan, if implemented, would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state.” This widely accepted notion is simply not true. E1 does not threaten the contiguity of a future Palestinian state in the West Bank. The 2000 Camp David Israeli peace proposal offered over 95 percent of contiguous West Bank territory to the Palestinians for them to use for a state. This 95 percent did not include Ma’ale Adumim or E1, and still, Palestine was contiguous. The EU has to be able to know that Israeli E1 construction will have no impact on the contiguity of Palestine.
Another disingenuous point made in the report appears in section six in reference to the Palestinians’ recent acquisition of UN observer state status. It says, “The European Union calls on the Palestinian leadership to use constructively this new status and not to undertake steps which would deepen the lack of trust and lead further away from a negotiated solution.” While I certainly hope that the Palestinian leadership adheres to this, there’s something tremendously ironic about this statement. While expressing that the Palestinians should be trustworthy, the EU is condoning an act that proved it was clearly not trustworthy. The UN bid was a unilateral move that violated agreements with Israel. The Palestinian leadership moved ahead with it despite Israeli requests to hold back. If the EU was really concerned about Israel’s trust in the Palestinian leadership, it would have condemned the Palestinians for submitting the observer statehood bid.
Section seven features another illegitimate point, in this case with regards to Israel’s blockade on Gaza. The report says, “Fully recognizing Israel's legitimate security needs, the European Union reiterates its call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings." If the EU indeed “fully recognized Israel’s legitimate security needs” it would know that the UN Palmer Report labeled Israel’s blockade of Gaza, in the report’s own words in section 82, as “a legitimate security measure.” The blockade’s intentions are fully legal and legitimate, and it is carried out in complete adherence to international law. Somehow, the EU still feels that Israel must immediately remove it.
A final point on which the EU report falters: The report says in section eight “the European Union reiterates its call for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind the strong leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, in line with the principles set out in his speech of 4 May 2011” (the date of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal signing). In the very next section, the report says, “The EU finds inflammatory statements by Hamas leaders that deny Israel's right to exist unacceptable.” So, while acknowledging that Hamas’ central goal is of destroying Israel is unacceptable, the European Union is urging for Hamas to gain a greater role in negotiations for peace. That’s simply nonsensical.
There’s something fishy in the state of Europe. These “Conclusions” ignore basic facts, are hypocritical, and, at points, simply illogical. The only way the EU could have so selectively chosen the information they incorporated into this report is if its members have a deep-seated perspective against Israel, resulting in severe confirmation bias which is extremely difficult to overcome. As Max Planck pointed out, “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Unfortunately, Israel doesn’t have time to wait for a new crop of diplomats. Its survival is on the line. Israel has to get creative and make a concerted effort at correcting this situation.