Israel/Palestine: The Politics of a Two-State Solution

  • Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution
  • When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East

Friday, April 19, 2013

European Union Taking a Stand in the Middle East?

In my most recently published book, When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East, which was published in 2010 by McFarland Publishing of Jefferson, NC, I stated that the dual mediation used in Northern Ireland by London and Dublin would be a good model for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other ethnic conflicts. I wrote that the two partners in the Middle East should be Washington and Brussels (EU), as each had good connections and bias towards one of the parties in the conflict and yet very good relations with each other. This is the Northern Ireland model. It was reported in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv (in Hebrew) that EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton received a letter from 19 distinguished European statesmen and politicians including one former president (female), four former prime ministers and seven former foreign ministers calling on her to assert a more active role for the EU in mediation of the conflict challenging the traditional solo role of Washington and also criticizing the way Israeli settlement has been allowed to perpetuate the occupation.  Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf discusses the letter on his joint blog, 972. He reproduces the text of the letter and the names of the signators. The most prominent are probably: Miguel Moratinos, the former EU representative to the Oslo talks and former foreign minister of Spain; Giullio Amatto, the former prime minister of Italy; and John Bruton, the former prime minister (taoiseach) of Ireland during the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s.  Bruton was in office (1994-97) when the peace process was frozen because the IRA had broken its ceasefire over the decommissioning issue.

In 1979 the forerunner of the EU, the European Economic Community (EEC), issued a declaration from its Venice Summit in July calling for Palestinian participation in the peace process. This was at a time when the PLO refused to recognize Israel and had been carrying out a terrorist campaign against it from the mid-1960s. (The PLO was taken over by the fedayeen organizations in 1969 that had been carrying out this attack from the mid-1960s. The PLO was founded by the Arab League in 1964.) The United States ignored the declaration and it had no real effect. The EU did have observer status during the latter part of the Oslo process in the Taba talks in January 2000. Otherwise it has been basically ignored. 

In 1992-93 Washington left the Europeans to deal with the civil war in Bosnia and Brussels dropped the ball, unable to bridge the differing biases of its leading members towards Serbia and Croatia. Finally Washington had to intervene in 1995 to change the military balance and then mediate an end to the war. Only then was Europe allowed to take over again. In 1998-99 Washington did not even bother going to the European Union to deal with Serbian repression in Kosovo but led a NATO intervention in the spring of 1999. 

Maybe Europe is better able to deal with crises that occur outside of Europe? Maybe Europe can deal effectively with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? But I would not expect Europe to try to kick Washington out of the game completely, but rather only demand an equal share.  The Northern Ireland model is still the best model out there.

1 comment:

  1. In the near future we will certainly witness the growth of public opinion on both sides forcing the authorities to undertake a peace process.

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