This text is part of an article originally published by Carnegie Europe where leading experts answer the question: “Has Europe walked away from the Israeli-Palestinian project?”. Please find a link to the original post here.
Europe has not walked away, it has simply continued to play a rather marginal and unconstructive role.
That role is defined by a combination of internal division, excessive deference to U.S. positions, and, for some, a deliberate distortion of the conflict’s realities driven by political cowardice. The EU foreign ministers’ statement of July 22 was a Christmas tree affair, decorated with an eclectic mix of good, bad, and irrelevant policy positions. But by adopting Israel’s position on disarming Hamas and more, the EU sent a signal that was spun by Israel as an invitation to ramp up its military operation at an appalling cost in Palestinian civilian casualties and suffering.
Some Europeans once again assumed that Israel would be more reasonable if indulged. That never works. Only if Europeans decide to prioritize conflict resolution over their bilateral relations with Israel will their actions be effective. That shows little sign of happening.
Likewise, Europeans have no meaningful strategy toward the Palestinians. Europe passively supports but does not actively engage with Palestinian reconciliation. Europeans boycott Hamas while paying the bills for Israel’s repeated destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and economic life.
Contemporary European policy is not responsible for this ongoing, escalating conflict. For that, blame Israel’s determination to perpetually dispossess the Palestinians, and Palestinian failure to produce a more effective strategy than either the indiscriminate violence of Hamas or the supine pleading of Fatah.
Indeed, until there is a Palestinian leadership able to translate European public sympathy into meaningful political asks and costs, then expect a meandering and marginalized European policy to continue.
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