It’s time for Europe to change its attitude towards Palestine | European Union
The recent escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian situation has once again turned the world’s attention to Israel’s 53-year occupation and its systematic violation of the most basic human rights of the Palestinian people. It also makes it clear that the EU’s long-standing strategy of trying to end the conflict and further promote its interests in the Middle East has not worked, and may even make the situation worse.
On May 21, a fragile ceasefire ended Israel’s 11-day bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip and Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israeli cities, but there was little room for celebration-the root cause of this escalation has not yet been determined solved. To help prevent another devastating confrontation, European governments must fundamentally change direction. They should adopt a new approach based on international law and multilateralism, and require both parties to take responsibility.
Repeating the old mantra of supporting two countries while requiring direct negotiations between two fundamentally asymmetrical parties will not bring breakthroughs. Attempting to isolate Hamas or launch another reconstruction effort in Gaza will not provide a sustainable solution. Any effort that does not consider the overall picture of the Israeli occupation and structural violence against millions of Palestinians is doomed to failure. Trying to relieve symptoms without curing the disease will not provide more security and stability for Israelis and Palestinians.
Therefore, any European efforts against Israel and Palestine should first resolve the occupation that led to the conflict and the resulting state-supported discrimination.
The responsibility for the recent crisis mainly falls on Israel’s outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During his 12 years in power, Netanyahu has been pursuing a separatist policy, and his achievements have been nothing more than inciting nationalist sentiments and intensifying racial and religious tensions in Israel. Last month, after struggling in opinion polls after four inconclusive elections and being investigated for corruption, he decided to use the long-simmering tensions in occupied East Jerusalem to reshuffle the cards in a desperate attempt to stay in power. Israel’s longest-serving prime minister did not restrict violent settlers, but deployed security forces to disperse unarmed Palestinians who protested the settlement expansion of Sheikh Jarrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other human rights violations — a move that would almost certainly be More conflicts pave the way and violence.
Indeed, Hamas quickly joined the battle. Using the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s mild response to the latest Israeli aggression, Hamas used the crisis to present itself as a Palestinian resistance movement Of the vanguard. It began to launch rockets into Israeli cities, which caused condemnation from the international community.
But the problem of the Hamas rocket attack cannot be solved in isolation. The organization’s actions can only be understood and effectively resolved in the context of the terrible humanitarian crisis affecting more than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza today. The years of blockade of the Palestinian enclaves by Israel and Egypt and the indifference of the international community towards it undoubtedly make us see the recent escalation.
Although it is clear that the Palestinian cause is controversial and ultimately self-defeating, one cannot ignore why there is increasing support for armed resistance in occupied Palestine. To date, the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to resolve conflicts through diplomatic means have had little effect and have little impact on the lives of Palestinians. As a result, more and more Palestinians now see resistance-whether armed or unarmed-as their only way out.
The main responsibility for this once again fell on Netanyahu, who has frustrated diplomatic efforts time and time again, including the Oslo Agreement, which he personally worked to dismantle since the mid-1990s.
However, the responsibilities of the United States and Europe cannot be ignored.
Decades of unquestionable US support and military assistance — now more than $3.8 billion a year — have effectively exacerbated Israel’s sense of impunity, rather than increasing its propensity to risk peacefully. Examples include the unscrupulous attacks by Israeli settler organizations on unarmed Palestinian protesters and the occupation of Palestinian homes under live television and military escorts. These actions prove that Human Rights Watch and other Israeli and international organizations have recently emphasized Israel’s apartheid-like system of racial discrimination.
Tensions have continued since the ceasefire was announced, and there is an urgent need to face this grim reality.
Netanyahu is about to step down now, but those who are ready to succeed him, like most Israeli establishments, cannot be described convincingly as “partners for peace.” The international community headed by the European Union should recognize this fact and stop providing diplomatic cover for Israel’s split, sabotage, and illegal policies and actions against the Palestinians.
For decades, carrots have been used for decades to alleviate Israel’s concerns, hoping for a safer and more confident Israel to make concessions for peace, but the result was dismal failure. Today, there is an increasing need to take drastic measures against Israel’s violations of international law, which is similar to pressure on the Palestinians to take a moderate attitude and force them to turn to diplomacy.
The latest round of fighting should be a wake-up call for the European Union. Despite decades of diplomatic efforts, as daily violence in Occupied Palestine continues, the EU’s claim to support human rights and fundamental freedoms as an integral part of its identity is being tested.
The continued occupation is indeed a rude reminder of the failure of the 30-year peace process actively supported by the United States and Europe. The European Union has invested billions of dollars to support the development of Palestinian state institutions. Such assistance does not promote the prospect of peace. It also fails to provide Europe with a recognized diplomatic role in the US-led peace process. Similarly, although the EU collectively represents Israel’s first trading partner, Europe has been reluctant to turn it into political influence, even though Israel’s actions are often condemned by the EU. At the same time, individual member states actively win over Israel, increase bilateral trade, arms sales, and high-tech cooperation, further weakening the EU’s influence and consensus in conflicts.
In this context, the EU’s assistance to the Palestinians and the growth of trade with Israel are increasingly seen as complicity in funding the occupation. Although this support helps save lives, pay wages and provide basic services in Occupied Palestine, it is clearly not a substitute for political action to end the occupation. If strategic autonomy is taken seriously, the EU needs to muster the courage to rediscover its political role in Israel and Palestine, even if it means breaking the old taboo—that is, reviewing Hamas’s non-contact policy or considering additional conditions, even targeted ones. Sanctions-visits to Israel and settlements.
After decades of following the United States under the leadership of the Middle East, the time has come for Europe to become independent from Washington, especially on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Continuing to adopt a business-as-usual approach will not bring about sustainable peace. Rather, it will only postpone the next inevitable fire, while further weakening the credibility of the EU and the United States, as well as the credibility of the broader rules-based international system that both parties claim to support.
Only by reaffirming the role of the United Nations and ensuring that violations of international law are held accountable can the next fire be avoided. Only by adopting a truly equal distance between Israel and the Palestinians and directly addressing final status issues-settlements, Jerusalem, refugees, borders and natural resources-can diplomacy finally produce results, not support an illusion that can only be used as a cover status quo. Israel goes with impunity and continues to annex Palestinian land.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.