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

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Do EU Clarifications on Israeli border threaten negotiations?

It was announced earlier this week that the European Union would officially not fund any projects in Israel involving input from over the green line (1949 armistice lines). The Israeli government, predictably, denounced this as evidence of European anti-semitism reminiscent of the Holocaust era. In reality instead of discriminating against Israel, it treats Israel like any other country by making clear that the EU recognized UN Security Council Resolution 242 and international law as well as decades of American government policy towards the border. Labor MK Yitzhak Hertzog said that it was a de facto boycott. In reality it is like the limited boycott that American Orthodox Jew and liberal Zionist Peter Beinart has promised as a means of pressure towards implementing a two-state solution. Here for an argument that the new guidelines are anti-semitic.

Some Israeli commentators have said that this will imperil the present American attempt to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. But aren't these negotiations already endangered by the composition of the Israeli composition? Or by the failure of Prime Minister Netanyahu to expel Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon for stating that the two-state solution was not government policy and that the coalition would vote against it if it came to a vote?  Or by statements by Housing Minister Naftali Bennett that the Palestinians are like a piece of shrapnel in the ass? Here diplomatic correspondent Chemi Shalev of Ha'Aretz makes the case that it will actually strengthen Kerry's mission. And here is a Jerusalem Post editorial arguing that it is out of touch with reality. While here is 972's take on it. And here is the Lebanese Daily Star's take on it. And a rather revisionist take it is, by stating that we are back where we were 46 years ago this overlooks the Khartoum summit resolutions--the three no's--and the subsequent Arab rejectionism that continued until after the time of Sadat.

These new EU regulations simply clarify what has been ongoing EU policy for some time. While some Israelis think they are revenge for Israeli exclusion of the Europeans from peace negotiations, the "new" policy is more likely to bring about eventual European inclusion in negotiations by making them more credible to the Palestinians and Arabs and hence an asset for balancing Washington's pro-Israel bias. They are also likely to forestall moves to implement a European boycott of Israel altogether. Now only products produced in the territories will be banned or boycotted in any future EU moves. For now the move allows for European funding of Israeli research projects that do not involve researchers who are settlers or research taking place in settlements. I would urge the EU to be flexible in applying these regulations to the Jerusalem area to recognize the reality that Hebrew University has a campus that is beyond the green line on Mount Scopus that was built before Israel was a state and will be included in Israel in any future negotiations.

The European move is notice that nationalist and undemocratic moves by Israel's Right are not cost free. The Israeli Right keeps on isolating Israel and then proclaiming that everyone is against it. I wonder why? This just shows that Israel's Right is part of the ideological spectrum of the European Radical Right from the interwar period. A part of an ideological spectrum that rejects universal values and looks to ethno-nationalism, whether this stems from the writings of Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky or for the writings and teachings of Rabbi Avraham Kook and Rabbi Yitzhak Kook. Here is what former Barak political advisor Yossi Alpher wrote about the significance:

"Finally, there is the effect on the Israeli consciousness. The settler leaders and boosters who say Israel is not isolated and not threatened by international boycott will now be treated more skeptically by the public. The Israeli peace camp leaders who have long predicted economic boycott and isolation will now be treated more credibly."

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