European Union's Policy Towards Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
A historical overview will help us understand that for modern society the 20th century was very cruel and tragic if we speak about the military confrontations and their results as the world had to face two World Wars, the colonisation process, or even totalitarian governments, like Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Empire of Japan, and the Soviet Union. Speaking about consequences, we refer to a big number of casualties but also to historical, political and social processes that determined movement of people, establishment of new borders and outbreak of internal or regional conflicts.
Some of the conflicts that have started during the last century continue even in present without a viable solution, being able to influence and destabilise not only the situation in their vicinity but also in the remote regions all over the world. Speaking about Middle East, Pinar Bilgin (2004, p.1) believes that throughout the twentieth century, it remained an arena of incessant conflict attracting global attention. As recent developments in the area have shown it is difficult to exaggerate the significance of Middle Eastern insecurities for world politics.
Of course, Middle East represent a big interest for key players like European Union, Russia, United States or China as it is “a region of high strategic and geopolitical importance, since it holds over 50% of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves, and these reserves will be of crucial importance in case of future conflicts” (Alhadeff, 2015, p.9).
Middle East is “home of many conflicts of all sorts (Blaga, 2015, p.3), but this paper will focus mostly on the issues regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and EU position towards it as I believe this is one of the key ongoing problems from the region. Probably, EU policy towards this sensible problem should be analysed in a broader context – the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), launched in 2004, which can be divided into two partnerships. The Eastern Partnership consists of states that were previously part of the Soviet Union (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia Moldova, and Ukraine), while the South Partnership includes countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region (Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and the Palestinian Authority) (Stivachtis, p.110).
On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the EU will work closely with the Quartet, the Arab League and all key stakeholders to preserve the prospect of a viable two-state solution based on 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps, and to recreate the conditions for meaningful negotiations. The EU will also promote full compliance with European and international law in deepening cooperation with Israel and the Palestinian Authority (EEAS, 2016, pp. 34-35).
However, John Peet believes that European Union has a very limited influence on the Arab-Israeli conflict delivering three main reasons for this. “The first is that Israel looks much more to the United States than to the EU as its main ally and financial supporter. Indeed, Israel actively mistrusts many EU countries. A second and related issue is that Palestine, although it sees Europe as sympathetic to its cause and also as a vital source of finance, also sees Europe as unable to exert anything like enough pressure on Israel. The third reason is that EU countries tend to be divided on the issue of the Middle East. Germany and the Netherlands are in general pro-Israel, while France and Britain are more sympathetic to Palestine. Such divisions have made it harder for the EU than for the United States, say, to play much of a role in the conflict” (Peet, 2012, p.361).
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