Diplomats: EU has Israel sanctions ready, and Uncle Sam may not be able to help

Western diplomatic sources say that EU may levy sanctions against Israel unless an initiative is presented to break the stagnation in the peace process.

By SHLOMO SHAMIR/MAARIV ONLINE
June 9, 2015 16:25
2 minute read.
eu flag (european union)

European Union flags. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Israel wishes to delay the signing of a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, but not solely because such an agreement would be dangerous to the Jewish State.

The concern is that immediately following such an agreement, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will become the UN Security Council's and European Union's top priority, and the international community will be freed up to deal with the party it sees as responsible for the stagnation in the peace process - Israel.

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This is the widely-held assumption in off-the-record conversations among diplomatic sources in New York and in Washington. "A diplomatic attack against Israel is expected soon that will surprise even the pessimists in Jerusalem," a senior Western diplomat told The Jerusalem Post's Hebrew-language sister publication, Ma'ariv. "In the Security Council, in western capitals and at EU headquarters, they are just waiting for the Iran deal to be signed and for it to be approved by the American Congress."

The estimate is that the forced period of waiting will end in September. Then, as the UN General Assembly opens, the signal will be given to start the diplomatic attack against Israel.

Diplomatic sources involved in the western European capitals' handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict say that the EU has already prepared documents which list a number of sanctions that will be levied against Israel in the fields of trade, agriculture, science and culture if Jerusalem does not soon present a diplomatic initiative that leads to a meaningful breakthrough toward a solution to the conflict.

"S‭enior officials in Jerusalem are aware of the existence of sanctions documents at EU headquarters, some of which have even fallen into their hands," a source told Ma'ariv. When US President Barack Obama said on numerous occasions recently that the US will have a difficult time defending Israel in international forums, he is referring especially to "the sanctions file" against Israel, which is waiting at EU headquarters.

The Americans are facing a difficult dilemma. The White House and the State Department are against interference by the Security Council and international forums  in diplomatic efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a role that the Americans see as their own exclusively.

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The White House has yet to decide on its response to the French draft resolution making the rounds at the Security Council, which Israel staunchly opposes, and Washington is still mulling its response to the EU sanctions plan.

Unfortunately, Western diplomats in New York say, the new Israeli government is not at all expected to present a new and daring diplomatic initiative. "The make-up of the government is such that no faction or minister will stand up to the lack of an initiative from Prime Minister Netanyahu," a diplomatic source in New York told Ma'ariv. "The coming months will be difficult for Israel. This time Israel will pay a heavy price for continued stagnation. This time, it is also uncertain if Uncle Sam will succeed in saving Israel, and maybe he won't want to do so."

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