European Union flags.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
While the people of Israel wondered whether a third intifada might be starting in Jerusalem and then whether their government would break apart, Europeans were wondering how they could force their will on Israel.
On October 30, one day after the attempted assassination of a Jewish political activist and a week after Palestinian terrorists plowed their car into pedestrians waiting at a train station in Jerusalem, killing an infant and a tourist, the Swedish government recognized the “State of Palestine.”
Just two weeks before that, and not long after Hamas initiated another war with Israel, the British parliament voted (274-12) to urge the British government “to recognize the state of Palestine.”
In the middle of November, a month of terrorist attacks against Jews – including the heinous massacre of four Jewish worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue – the Spanish parliament voted almost unanimously (319-2) “urg[ing] the government to recognize Palestine as a state.”
More recently, on December 2 France’s National Assembly voted 339-151 urging recognition of Palestinian statehood, with the French Senate ratifying the resolution soon after.
As the terrorism continued, for example with the stabbing of two Jewish shoppers at a supermarket on December 3, so did the European resolutions, with the Irish parliament calling for recognition of a Palestinian state on December 9 and the Portuguese parliament doing the same on December 13.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament resolved that it “supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood.”
France and potentially other European powers are also considering supporting a UN Security Council resolution requiring an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and the creation of a Palestinian state on a predetermined timetable.
These resolutions are ostensibly about jumpstarting the peace process. And indeed some of the resolutions were couched in the usual dream-language of two states living side by side in peace.
In practice, however, the resolutions are meant to pressure Israel, which to the European mind is avoiding its responsibilities vis-à-vis the Palestinians and using Palestinian terrorism as an excuse.
As one British MP argued during the debate over the British Parliament’s resolution: “The only thing that the Israeli Government understands... is pressure.
What the House will be doing this evening will be to add to the pressure on the government of Israel.”
But as the Israeli government has reiterated time and again, these European attempts to pressure Israel will only make peace less likely.
For Israelis, European criticism is incessant and hopelessly one-sided. These resolutions only confirm that.
Israel has undertaken numerous substantial concessions either for the sake of peace or merely to get the Palestinians to agree to negotiate with Israel.
These include granting the Palestinians self-rule and withdrawing from Palestinian cities as part of the Oslo Accords, withdrawing completely from the Gaza Strip and expelling thousands of Israeli citizens from their communities as part of the disengagement plan, freezing settlement construction, releasing terrorists convicted of murder and attempted murder, and barring Jews from praying at the Temple Mount. Though these concessions have been met with increased Palestinian violence against Jews, Europe acts as if Israel refuses to compromise, concede or sacrifice for peace.
While many European diplomats and politicians fancy themselves as retaining their imperial role of umpire of native disputes and as having the power to implement the solutions that they – sitting safely thousands of miles away – deem necessary, it is the people of Israel that are in fact in control of Israel’s armed forces. It is Israel that will decide whether a Palestinian state arises. (Such a state would also be dependent on Palestinian society concurrently deciding to direct its energy toward more constructive goals).
As long as Europe maintains its prejudice against Israel, Israelis will have little reason to believe that further concessions will win them Europe’s favor.
Instead, they will continue to shrug their shoulders and rightfully recall that the “goyim” are always against us and will remain so despite the Palestinian terrorism that will inevitably follow the next concession.
At the same time, Europe’s obsession with Israel leads Palestinians to view Europe and the international community, their institutions, and the various pro-Palestinian non-governmental organizations they fund as tools and forums which can be utilized to force Israel to meet their demands outside of a negotiated peace. With Europe as their advocate, they can win concessions – as they did with the 2005 disengagement, the 2010 settlement freeze and the recent release of 78 terrorists – before negotiations even begin or merely for participating in negotiations. There is no need for them to relinquish their quest for Israel’s ultimate destruction, or cease acts of terrorism and indoctrination, incitement and funding of terrorism.
Even more disturbing than the negative consequences for the prospects for true peace is the unspoken, but readily apparent disregard for Jewish life implied by these European resolutions and actions.
Israel’s security concerns are real. A century of Palestinian violence against Jews is not a mere excuse that Israel conjures to avoid Palestinian statehood or other concessions. Europeans, however, are unfazed. Even as Palestinians plow their cars into pedestrians with encouragement from Palestinian Authority institutions, European officials do not even attempt to explain why Israelis shouldn’t worry about the concessions they demand. They want Israel to give the Palestinians what they believe the Palestinians deserve, even if unaccompanied by a termination of violence on the part of the Palestinians. If that results in more dead Jews, that is none of their concern.The writer is an attorney and a Likud Central Committee member.