• The European Union
The European Union
The Jerusalem Post, Sunday, Nov. 27
It’s as if someone was out to sabotage a role for the European Union in resolving the Arab-Israel conflict. How else to explain the leak of a confidential report drafted by British diplomats at the UK’s east Jerusalem consulate for an EU ministers meeting? Britain holds the rotating presidency of the EU and Tony Blair’s office was quick to urge that the anti-Israel text be seen as “reflecting not just British views but the collective views of the head of missions in Jerusalem.”
The EU seems to want it both ways: to be an honest broker while advocating the Palestinian cause.
All this could not have come at a worse time. This week marks the 10th anniversary of the “Barcelona process.” A Euro-Mediterranean Partnership meeting is taking place from today in Barcelona aimed at fostering “peace, stability and development” in the region Europe shares with the Mediterranean countries. The EU has just begun providing “third party” monitors at the Rafah crossing between the Palestinian Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai to ensure Palestinian compliance with Israeli security concerns. Under prompting from Washington and the EU, further Israeli concessions, including allowing bus convoys between Gaza and the southern West Bank, are set to start on December 15.
The timing of this report on east Jerusalem, so critical of Israel, is also bad from our domestic point of view. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is trying to make political hay out of the Gaza disengagement by arguing that the pullout bought him diplomatic maneuvering room on issues of consensus inside Israel. Now along comes this EU report to remind us that even integral Jerusalem neighborhoods such as East Talpiot, Gilo, Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot and French Hill are deemed “illegal settlements.” …
If the EU wants to play a positive role it should impress upon the Palestinians the realities of life: No Israeli government will agree to return to the 1949 Armistice Lines. No premier will cede the Western Wall or allow Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus to become a noman’s land again.
There is no shortage, however, of thinking Israelis who appreciate that creative solutions will be needed to bridge the gap between Jewish and Palestinians aspirations. So if the EU ministers meeting in Barcelona want to be useful they should rein in those who think pandering to the Palestinians is the way forward.