Mideast experts blast European group's call to punish Israeli government

“Far from being a peace proposal, this is a re-statement of standard European mythology..."

May 18, 2015 00:27
3 minute read.
A PALESTINIAN supporter holds a protest leaflet advocating a boycott of Israel in France

A PALESTINIAN supporter holds a protest leaflet advocating a boycott of Israel in France. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Responding to a group calling itself the European Eminent Persons Group on Middle East issues (EEPG),which urged the EU to take unilateral actions against the Jewish state for the stagnate peace process, Israeli experts leveled sharp criticism.

In an email to the Jerusalem Post on Friday, Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg , the president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, wrote, “Far from being a peace proposal, this is a re-statement of standard European mythology, which is based entirely on and reinforces the Palestinian narrative of unending conflict. This approach patronizes Palestinians, treating them like children incapable of moral behavior or of taking responsibility for their actions, while legitimate Israel security concerns are erased. As a result, Israelis and Palestinians alike do not take the EU seriously.”

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Steinberg added “Many of the signatories made a bad situation worse while they held official positions. For example, Mary Robinson presided over the disastrous 2001 UN ‘Durban Conference’ which launched the Palestinian BDS and lawfare processes. And as the EU's foreign policy czar, Javier Solana was repeatedly manipulated and exploited by [Yasser] Arafat. Under Solana, the EU secretly began to channels millions of Euros to anti-peace NGOs -- a policy that continues to cause major damage.” Robinson and Solana signed the letter along with a group of former European diplomats and politicians from Germany, France, Portugal, the Netherlands and Austria.

The EEPG wrote that the EU should support in the UN Security Council “ a resolution that either calls for new negotiations and sets a mandatory deadline for the completion of an agreement to establish a two-state solution; or creates a greater equivalence between the Israeli and Palestinian parties, including through recognition of a Palestinian state and strong support for Palestine accession to international treaties and organizations.”

The group called for” EU-wide introduction of guidelines for correct labelling of settlement products, to be complemented by tougher measures to contain settlement expansion and steps to operationalize the EU’s policy of non-recognition of Israeli sovereignty beyond the 1967 borders across the full range of EU-Israeli relations.”

Ambassador Shimon Stein, who served as Israel’s Ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2007, said by email to the Post, The letter from "a bunch of arrogant old timers is irrelevant. Their letter together with other initiatives should be seen as a harbinger. If the Netanyahu government will not become pro active ,and if the status quo will continue then do expect such initiative to mount.There is a need for a process initiated by Israel in coordination with the US. Bottom line expect ‘eminents ‘ and others to feel the vacuum."

Steinberg said , “Vice President Mogherini would be well-advised to learn from the total failure of European policy in the Middle East under this group. The EU needs a new policy on the Middle East and Israel -- one that is based on reality rather than myth. Rather than reinforcing Palestinian rejectionism, the EU must begin by examining the implications of the chaos and terror from ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah and the disintegration of Syria, Iraq and Libya.”

Asaf Romirowsky, the Executive Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told the Post on Friday, the letters shows “ a lack of understanding as to the state of the peace process over the past few years. For starters, the general mistrust of Netanyahu that he would not move along a 2 state solution something he reiterated after the elections and committed in his Bar Ilan speech is and has been the policy of left and right Israeli government. Second, the belief that Hamas is a legitimate partner of peace and would change its mandate and commitment to the destruction of the Jewish State glosses over any real understanding of the Islamist narrative.”

He said “the supposedly ‘fresh new approach’ is detached from the current Middle East architecture and presumes that there is a real meaningful desire for peace on the Palestinian side which yet ignores the actions of the PA and Hamas, the fragmentation between Gaza and the West Bank, and above all the refusal of the PA to engage in direct negotiations with Israel. Finally, this approach in practice will only isolate Israel in European circles and push the Peace Process even further away.”

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