The EU and the Middle East Peace Process


Today EU foreign ministers discussed the Middle East peace process and the Council conclusions include a few positive developments. For example, ministers are proposing a “package of European political, economic and security support to both parties in the context of a final status agreement”. However, it is also surprising to see the EU’s somewhat confused and muddle-headed references to a "one-state reality" at a time when this is closer to the current situation on the ground than a two-state outcome.

As highlighted in ECFR’s new Two-State Stress Test project, third party diplomatic interventions are currently the strongest sustainer of the two-state model based on analysis of trends in 2013. Any lessening of this intensity would leave the prospects for a two-state solution even more fragile.

Nevertheless, Europe must be clearer on disincentives. Our Two-State Stress Test (TSST) indicates that despite intense diplomatic activity the two-state option will come under increasingly unbearable strain should there continue to be slippage on a range of other issues.

Areas of particular strain highlighted by the TSST relate to territory and continued settlement expansion as well as to trends in Israeli political and public opinion which are moving away from a two-state solution.Strains on the two state option are generated at a lesser but notable level from all other categories - a gradually worsening situation in Jerusalem and on security questions, and by two factors less frequently taken into consideration: the Palestinian political and public debate and the refugee issue.

The challenge for the EU and others will therefore be finding ways of better impacting those Israeli trends, in particular through a ramped-up set of disincentives - alongside the incentives announced today - in order to noticeably impact Israeli cost/benefit calculations and move Israeli decision makers and their publics more in the direction of the choices needed to achieve a viable two-state outcome.

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