ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | The EU Abdicates its Role as Peace Maker 22.7.04

The EU Abdicates its Role as Peace Maker

22 July 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Israel got clobbered at the UN this week, as the General Assembly endorsed the non-binding International Court of Justice ruling demanding Israel rip down the security fence by a vote of 150 in favor, 6 against and 10 abstentions. No matter what Israel did the vote was a lost cause, but the idea was to make it look much better than the numbers indicated. The hope was, that the 25 members of the European Union would abstain, and supposedly they almost did. Half and hour before the vote, France is said to have forced the issue after it was decided to abstain. The French ambassador is reported to have been as vehement as the Palestinian observer, Nasser al-Kidwa, in demanding Israel’s condemnation. In the end Paris won.

The question is whether the Europeans did not lose, and with it their attempts at mediating a Palestinian-Israeli deal. Europe, as part of the Quartet (the UN, Russia, the US and the EU), is expected to be a broker in Mideast peace making. Had they abstained, they could still hold that position – today instead of just doubts, many Israelis feel downright betrayed.

In Israel the EU bloc vote is interpreted as:

* denying Israel the right to security in its efforts to battle terrorism.

• denying the rights of Jews to live in the Biblical Land of Israel (even as individuals).

• undermining the moderate Right, led by PM Sharon, which intends to evacuate most areas. The EU has reinforced the hard line right wing view that there can be no compromises, since all Jewish development east of the of the 1949 armistice lines is seen by the UN as a single territorial issue, not to be split. (Both Bush and Sharon disagree.)

• demanding that Israel uproot all developments in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), which is just about impossible and could certainly lead to civil conflict.

 

By supporting the questionable legalisms of the ICJ ruling, the Europeans may believe they were balancing the US, but that tilt would have been managed with 25 abstentions, not condemnations. The UN resolution requested that the Palestinians try to stop acts of terrorism, but did not condemn them for advocating and using terror against Israel. The French and Swedish convinced their colleagues that such a mention was enough and made up for the fact that the ICJ ruling left out Israel’s security woes brought about by the Palestinian Authority terror offensive. The EU abdicated its declared role of peace makers.

Al-Kidwa and the Palestinians are the big winners. They drove a wedge between the EU and Israel, and have broadened the gap between the US and the Europeans. The vote emboldened the staunch right wing position that Israel must hold on to all, or capitulate completely. After the vote, Al-Kidwa spoke of UN Res. 181, meaning Israel must not only be driven back to the 1967 lines but should be forced back to the 1947 Partition Plan allocation (a plan rejected by all the Arab states at the time). Inferred is Res. 194, demanding the return of the Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians played a brilliant two pronged approach by garnering world support for an Israeli capitulation, while knowing full well it bolstered much of the country’s extreme Right. They hope for a violent showdown over the settlement issue, beginning with Gaza.

In the meantime anarchy reigns in the PA and the Palestinian people suffer. The same cannot be said for al-Kidwa and his UN staff. Unfortunately, the more success they have, the less compromise seems to be an option. When condemning Israel, the Palestinians have proven time and again, that they can win any vote at the UN, and this week they did it in style with full EU support.

But the real challenge is whether they can make peace with Israel and bring prosperity to their people. Here they are dismal failures.