Syria is devastated by civil war. Egypt is immersed in violent turmoil. Iran
continues to enrich uranium and spin centrifuges at an alarming pace, despite
the smiles and smooth talk of its new president. Together with its proxy
Hezbollah, Iran continues to destabilize a region awash in upheaval, with its
tentacles visible in every conflict in the area, from Lebanon to Iraq and
Bahrain to Yemen. And the menacing threat of al-Qaida remains
Enter the European Union.
With the region aflame
with so many crises demanding attention, the EU announced that it was imposing a
ban on Israeli institutions in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
and its timing, coming just as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed
negotiations after a three-year hiatus, could not have been more
Highly questionable for moral, historical and legal
reasons, the ban would be counterproductive at best and harmful at worst. It
will only serve as a disincentive for the Palestinian Authority to engage in
serious final-status negotiations. If the Palestinians can get what they want
from international bodies, why bother negotiate with the Israelis? Indeed, the
controversial and one-sided decision to single out the settlements smacks of
imbalance and will likely only serve to harden positions.
Did the EU ever
condition aid to the Palestinians on an end to the rabid anti-Israel and
anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian media? Just in the past couple weeks we
have seen the lethal consequences of such incitement: a 61-year-old Israeli man
was bludgeoned to death outside his Jordan Valley home by Palestinians wielding
axes and iron bars, a 9-yearold Israeli girl was shot outside her home in a West
Bank settlement just outside of Jerusalem, an Israeli soldier was killed by a
former Palestinian coworker who had lured him to the West Bank, while another
Israeli soldier was shot dead in the city of Hebron during the Feast of the
Has the EU singled out any other country for such one-sided
treatment? How do they explain their direct financial assistance to
Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus? How many people in Europe – and around the
world – know that the much touted “Green Line” is not a legal border but simply
the armistice line drawn after Israel’s War of Independence when it was attacked
by five invading Arab armies? Israel has legal, moral and security claims to
It is my firm belief that a viable peace – and any future
border changes – can only be worked out in direct bilateral negotiations
between Israelis and Palestinians.
The heads of the Israel Allies Caucus
in the US Congress, which I co-chair, have written to EU foreign policy chief
Catherine Ashton urging her to halt these harmful guidelines. Similarly, a group
of two dozen parliamentarians from around the world, including members of the
European Parliament, recently signed a similar petition. Ashton may have acted
unilaterally as the members of the European Parliament were unaware of the
pending action before she announced it.
I am also encouraged that
Secretary of State John Kerry has urged EU leaders to suspend this ban,
especially in light of the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace
Instead of being one-sided in their criticism, the EU
should redouble its efforts to promote economic development in the West Bank as
opposed to taking punitive steps against one side. Perversely, a ban such as
this would hurt struggling Palestinians more than it would hurt
Economic progress on both sides will do more to bring about the
kind of solution the EU so wants. A true peace will only be decided in bilateral
peace talks that both sides buy into.
We hope that our friends in Europe
will take heed.
It is in the true interest of peace that they do
so.The author, a member of Congress from Colorado, is a member of the
House Armed Services Committee and cochairs the bipartisan Congressional Israel
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