On Israel, the EU Sides With … Assad?
9:04 AM, Jul 17, 2013 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
This week the EU took a stance that it heralded as pro-peace, pro-"peace process," and anti-settlement. Henceforth, new guidelines require all 28 member nations to refuse any grants, scholarships, prizes, or funding to entities in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Or any part of Jerusalem that was not part of Israel prior to the 1967 war. Or the Golan Heights.
EU hostility to the West Bank settlements is not new, but this formulation is remarkable. First, the stumbling block to negotiations right now is the Palestinian refusal to come to the table. How does this punitive measure against Israel motivate Mahmoud Abbas to start talking? Does it not in fact signal him to keep staying away, only to see the EU hit Israel harder and harder?
Second, it is politically stupid in Israeli terms (as Obama policy has been) because it lumps together the major blocs that Israel will certainly keep in any peace deal, and the small settlements east of the security barrier, places that Israel will have to give up. Many Israelis would back a freeze of some sort for those small settlements and do believe those settlements will go if there is ever a final agreement, but they will not back a freeze in the major blocs. Those towns are thriving and will always be Israeli, so why punish them—and again, why punish them now because Abbas won't talk?
Then there's the Golan. If the pressure regarding the West Bank is meant to help John Kerry and his negotiations, what about the pressure regarding the Golan? Help foster negotiations between Israel and the murderous Assad regime?
Finally, there's Jerusalem. Remember that the pre-1967 situation was an East Jerusalem controlled by Jordan and entirely off-limits to Israelis, even including the Western Wall. So the new EU rule works like this: Jewish "settlements" in any part of East Jerusalem are plain verboten—at least until Mahmoud Abbas signs on the dotted line. Any construction in East or West Jerusalem by an Arab family is fine. Any construction in previously Jordanian-ruled areas of Jerusalem is limited to Arabs, but any construction in those areas by Jews is illegal, illegitimate, violates international law, and so on.
That's the EU's contribution to peace for this week. And then they complain that those intransigent Israelis don't see the EU as an honest broker.
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