US Sec. of State Kerry hugs EU foreign policy chief Ashton37.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The European Union is offended: After offering a package of “extraordinary” economic benefits last month if Israel would only sign a final-status deal with the Palestinians, it hasn’t even received an official response. Germany, France and Britain have all reportedly informed Jerusalem of their disappointment at this silence; French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave even did so publicly, via an op-ed in Haaretz.
Since the offer was explicitly conditioned on an Israel-Palestinian accord that almost nobody on either side considers achievable, Jerusalem probably doesn’t consider the issue high priority: Proposals that haven’t a chance of being realized rarely are. But there’s also a substantive reason for Israel’s non-response, which Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon voiced, unofficially, during a meeting with Israeli business leaders last month. The EU offer was meant to encourage Israel to accept the framework agreement now being drafted by US Secretary of State John Kerry. But this framework, Ya’alon warned, “will destroy the economy ... If we lose freedom of military action, the West Bank will turn into Hamastan, missiles will be fired at Tel Aviv and the economy will be destroyed.” In other words, the “extraordinary” package the EU offered requires concessions on security whose economic harm will far outweigh the putative benefits.