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Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR)

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The EU View of a Palestinian State

Christopher Barder
Policy Paper No. 69, from the book,
Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, 2001

Summary

The "Oslo" process, with its pressure on Israel to surrender crucial strategic assets and defensibility, closely reflects ideas advanced by the European Union in the Venice Declaration of 1980, which remains the cornerstone of EU Middle East policy. Before Madrid and Oslo, Israel suspected conferences, negotiating directly with the Arabs where possible; recognizing there was a war to be fought against terrorist enemies. Oslo altered these norms. Consequently, Israel faces Europe, the USA and the Arabs focused upon the "Palestinian issue", as the Arabs always demanded, with Israel denied legitimacy for any alternative to territorial surrender, with a murderous entity on its doorstep and in its heartland.

For the US, the growth in European involvement means support for eroding Israel's administrative and military capabilities in the territories, even if rivalry for influence in the region. The collapse of the Soviet Union has helped advance European ambitions which Oslo has legitimized. Europe seeks political weight commensurate with its economic investment in the region, primarily in the Palestinian entity, whose future statehood it supports economically and diplomatically, regardless of the dangers to Israel. This is part of a wider agenda redefining regional structures and the EU's place inside and outside NATO and in the world.

Room for Israeli maneuver has greatly diminished: instigation of alternatives to Oslo could now involve EU sanctions, NATO strikes, as well as Arab military attack. Before Oslo, Israel had not advertised a willingness to appease and surrender; after, she fell into line as the Europeans had long demanded. The Cold War to some extent made Israel strategically useful; Oslo has dramatically opened the door to others' purposes.

The EU intends a regional transformation which may involve undoing 1967 and perhaps 1948 too, through its support for a Palestinian state.

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