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- Sep 24, 2003
- Reaction score
- Nowhere to be seen
In The Guardian tonight. Interesting to see how some Israeli official circles see their future relation with the EU. I abbreviated the quote as the article is quite long.
Israel could become pariah state, warns report
Thursday October 14, 2004
Israel is set on a collision course with the EU and could turn into a pariah state, on a par with South Africa during the apartheid years, if the conflict with the Palestinians is not resolved, Israel's foreign ministry has warned. In a confidential 10-year forecast obtained by the Associated Press, the ministry's Centre for Political Research said the EU is pushing to become a major global player in the next decade, and that as a result the US, Israel's main ally, could lose international influence. If the 25-member EU overcomes internal divisions and speaks in one voice, its global influence would grow considerably, and be more in line with its powerful economy, analysts wrote. Europe is Israel's major trading partner.
Up to now, Europe has divided on major foreign policy issues, such as the war in Iraq. A more united and influential Europe would likely demand greater Israeli compliance with international conventions and could try to limit Israel's freedom of action in its conflict with the Palestinians, the document said. Israel might also have to pay a price for growing competition between the EU and the US. Israel-EU relations have long been shaky, and Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom has repeatedly warned that Israel has to work to strengthen ties with Europe. However, Israel also accuses the Europeans of pro-Palestinian bias, and complains of a growing wave of anti-Semitism in parts of Europe.
EU officials in Brussels said that while the EU and Israel have sound relations in the areas of trade and scientific research, they have very definite differences of opinion over the Palestinians.
"Regarding the Middle East peace process and our relations with Israel and the Palestinians, there is no doubt that the role of the EU has increased," said Christina Gallach, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
The EU says Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 must be followed by major troop withdrawals in the West Bank, and pave the way for Palestinian statehood. "None of this is exactly what the Israelis want to hear, but we have to say it," Ms Gallach said.
She added that the Israeli government wants to broaden the relationship with Europe without giving the EU a bigger role in resolving the Middle East conflict.
The EU's ambassador to Israel, Giancarlo Chevallard wrote on the legation's website that when it comes to the conflict, Israel "tends to keep Europe at arms length and prefers to place all its eggs in the American basket."
According to the Foreign Ministry document, which was written in August, Israel could become increasingly isolated in the coming years if Europe becomes more influential.
"In extreme circumstances, this could put Israel on a collision course with the European Union. Such a collision course holds the risk of Israel losing international legitimacy and could lead to its isolation, in the manner of South Africa," according to the document.
Even if the EU fails to become a major international player, Israel will still become increasingly isolated if it fails to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, according to the document. The best possible outcome - that the Middle East conflict moves toward solution - would still not put Israel and the European Union on good terms, the document said. "In almost every scenario, there is the potential for friction in Israel-EU relations," the analysts wrote.