In light of the US monopolization of the thus-far failing talks between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, and the exclusion of other international powers from the negotiations, it is time to reconsider the methodology of the peace process and the makeup of those in charge of it. The Palestinians should apply pressure to push for reintroducing the European Union (EU) and other powers into the process.
Palestinians have become accustomed to criticizing the EU for its weak influence on the political track when compared with the dominant role of the United States. While Palestinians admit that the EU is more generous in terms of the financial assistance it provides the Palestinian Authority (PA), they continue to discredit it for playing only a secondary role when it comes to political influence. It is only natural that the EU would be dissatisfied with an equation in which they pay more, but get less influence.
A key European figure revealed to Al-Monitor that one reason behind the dwindling European role in the peace process is the Palestinians’ lax stance, which does not insist on an active European presence in the process. The Palestinians have a number of cards that they could play to exert pressure in favor of activating the roles of the EU and other international parties, such as Russia, China and India. There also are other areas worth examining concerning the EU’s position toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The EU and the Palestinian cause
Some believe that the EU role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict began with the 1993 Oslo Accords. In fact, the position of the EU toward the Palestinian cause dates back to 1971, when the Europeans suggested a delineation of borders between Israel and neighboring Arab states. This was followed by the Vienna Declaration of 1980, when the EU acknowledged the right of the Palestinians to self-determination.
With time, the European stance developed significantly, with member states announcing their readiness in the Venice Declaration to acknowledge the statehood of Palestine by the end of the interim period set out in the Oslo Accords. The agreement stipulated a five-year transitional phase, from 1994 to 1999, at the end of which the Palestinians would announce the creation of a state, in May 1999. Simultaneously, the phase of final status would begin. The Palestinians, however, did not proclaim their state.
In 1993, with Oslo, the EU had reaffirmed its support for a peaceful process to enable the Palestinians to establish an independent state with strong institutions capable of fulfilling their duties toward the Palestinian people. The EU lent financial support to the PA in three areas:
According to official EU reports obtained by Al-Monitor, the EU contributes to development and relief internationally with grants of about $14 billion annually. Over the past five years, this contribution has totaled $66 billion, distributed among 100 third-world nations. Of this amount, 4% was allocated to the Palestinians, including in the areas covered by UNRWA. European support for the Palestinian people in 2008 totaled $800 million in 2008 and $500 million in 2011. The Europeans’ support is considered the most organized and the least politicized, because it is not related to stances taken by the PA. For example, assistance was not halted when PA President Mahmoud Abbas sought to obtain non-member observer status for Palestine in the United Nations in September 2011 and November 2012, nor when Hamas assumed power in Gaza in June 2007.
In a remarkable and strategic development, the EU unexpectedly decided in June 2013 to boycott goods and services produced in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands. In a July 19 statement, the EU announced that member states would halt cooperation, financial, technical and research assistance to Israeli institutions and bodies operating beyond the country’s 1967 borders in the occupied territories.
The EU decision was not limited to boycotting goods produced in the settlements. Although settlement products are important — given that Israel is a major trading partner for the EU and Mediterranean countries, and the EU is Israel’s leading trade partner, with goods worth approximately $40 billion in 2011 — the decision also included Israeli institutions and universities, barring them from receiving EU funding, grants, prizes, and tenders. It also barred them from participating in joint research with EU organizations.
While at first glance the EU decision may seem strictly economic, it was also politics par excellence. The determination was made on the basis that Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands minimize the chances of reaching a two-state solution, making impractical the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with political sovereignty and economic capacity.
Nevertheless, the PA and Palestinian civil society organizations have failed to appreciate the EU stance. This might be in part because despite the boycott of settlement products, 25,000 Palestinians work in Israeli companies in the West Bank settlements. Moreover, wealthy Palestinian businessmen have dealings with their Israeli counterparts, who manage large enterprises and commercial networks in the settlements.
In an article that caused quite a stir, The Sunday Times (London) reported on Oct. 13 that a committee of auditors found that $2.7 billion in European assistance provided to the PA between 2008 and 2012 had been lost. The newspaper did not publish the full report, but in response to the article, the EU announced that a complete report would be forthcoming at the end of the year. The PA is yet to comment on the report, despite the seriousness of its content. It seems that the figure mentioned in the newspaper might have been exaggerated, considering that European financial assistance during the years cited does not exceed $3.5 billion.
Nevertheless, it seems that some Palestinians do not fully appreciate the EU’s political and developmental role, and thus do not approach European financial aid with sufficient diligence. The EU certainly assumes a great deal of responsibility in its modest political activities and monitoring of funds. Yet, the responsibility of the Palestinian side is much greater. It is in the Palestinians’ interest that the EU play an active role in the peace process and show diligence in investing its financial support.
By ALAN ROSENBAUM
“We are a government agency with a start-up soul,” says Hagai Dror, managing director of HealthCare Israel, one of the three winners of the 2019 InnoDip Award for innovative diplomacy. The award, established by the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya, will be presented at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Thursday, November 21 in Jerusalem.
Healthcare Israel was created by Israel’s Ministry of Health in 2016 to deliver life-saving and cost-saving healthcare innovation, technology and expertise to the world, and promotes cooperation and Israeli health system exports through collaborations between government, the health system and the healthcare industry. It has leveraged Israel’s existing diplomatic ecosystem to reach out and create new kinds of international cooperation projects and business deals specifically in the healthcare space.
By YAAKOV KATZ
U.S. Ambassador Friedman to ‘Post’: New policy advances the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace • PM: Policy rights a historical wrong
In a historic reversal of US policy, the Trump administration announced on Monday that it does not view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. The policy change was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with president Reagan,” Pompeo said in reference to Ronald Reagan’s position that settlements were not inherently illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
Leftist students verbally abused and ransacked tables belong to conservative students
Binghamton University’s downtown campus in New York.
A New York State assemblyman has slammed Binghamton University for the way it has handled a group of leftist students who verbally abused and ransacked tables belonging to the campus College Republicans group.
The conservative students were handing out flyers for an upcoming talk by well-known economist Dr. Arthur Laffer when the incident occurred on Thursday.
A view of the Yehudit Bridge and the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, Feb. 17, 2019. Photo
CTech – Tel Aviv will officially launch its free weekend transportation service this Friday, the city announced Tuesday. In collaboration with neighboring towns Givatayim, Ramat Hasharon, and Kiryat Ono, Tel Aviv will operate six routes covering over 300 kilometers. Minivans will pick up and drop off passengers at over 500 stops across the metropolitan area at a frequency of once every 30 minutes between 6 pm on Friday and 2 am on Saturday, and between 9 am and 5 pm on Saturday.
Tel Aviv has long awaited a solution for transportation during Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. The principle of the “status quo”—a guideline which dictates maintaining the common practice when it comes to the fundamentals of Jewish Orthodoxy, especially Shabbat observance—effectively prevents the state from offering public transportation services on Shabbat, but since Tel Aviv’s service is free, it does not currently fall under the legal definition of public transportation.
A police car in the German capital of
An elderly man has been viciously beaten up in broad daylight on a Berlin street by a youth who showered him with antisemitic abuse.
According to the BZ online news outlet, the 76-year-old pensioner was walking along the Berliner Strasse in the Pankow district of the German capital at 9 a.m. on Monday when his passage was blocked by a 16-year-old youth and four of his friends.
Oct 25, 2019 0People arrive at a polling station to vote in the federal election in Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mathieu Belanger. A top Jewish advocacy group said on Friday it...
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What good is the flourishing of a nation if it is constantly at political, partisan war?
‘WITHOUT PEACE, life becomes unlivable. We’re all unnaturally nervous because there is hardly any downtime.’
When I first arrived to serve as rabbi at Oxford in late 1988, I had no office help. Therefore, in addition to my rabbinical and organizational responsibilities, I had to do all the office work myself. I wrote the checks, copied the fliers, typed the letters and licked the envelopes. In terms of communications, in those days I had to deal only with the telephone and snail mail.
Israel’s control over Judea and Samaria is not “occupation,” at least not according to international law.
The American tourist was staring at me with “deer in the headlights” eyes. She did not comprehend what I had just said to her. I had said that Palestinians are not Israelis.
A minute earlier she had revealed to us – a group of about 15 of her peers, plus me, all gathered in my Efrat living room – the root cause of Palestinian terrorism. It was due, she announced, to Israel “treating Palestinians like second-class citizens and denying them the right to come to Jerusalem.” By this she was inferring that Palestinians are citizens of the State of Israel who are discriminated against and denied numerous right
Mass emigration of Israel’s most tech-savvy individuals starves start-ups of talented hires and puts a ceiling on their growth.
A ROBOT tries to make a heart. Who is behind those online profiles?
The Start-Up Nation is suffering from a brain drain that threatens its growth.
For every Israeli citizen with a university degree who returned from abroad in 2017, a corresponding 4.5 Israelis with degrees left the country that same year, a newly released report by the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research found. The trend has been under way for years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah ride in a vehicle decorated with Hezbollah and Lebanese flags and a picture of him, as part of a convoy in the southern village of Kfar Kila, Lebanon October 25, 2019
Could uprisings in Iraq and Lebanon, coupled with US sanctions, permanently impair Iran’s influence in the region?
In the past few weeks, frustrated and fed-up demonstrators have taken to the streets of Lebanon and Iraq to voice grievances against their governments. The perception of Iranian infiltration and influence certainly continues to impact this political shake-up in both regions.
Hamas is aware of the deep crisis but still sticks to its guns, literally, by insisting on holding and upgrading its arsenal instead of helping its own people
The recent clash in the Gaza Strip was not like earlier ones there because it was only between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Hamas was not really involved. This could be a model for the future in which Israel might strike the PIJ while Hamas again stays out of the fight.