Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Europe: The “Deal of the Century” and Israel’s European challenge

Via The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (Dr. Emmanuel Navon):
[…] While Israel should secure US support for the deal's partial implementation in the absence of negotiations, it must also pre-empt and mitigate the opposition of the European Union and of the United Kingdom. This must be done not only by neutralizing unanimous decisions from the EU's foreign affairs council thanks to the votes of European governments sympathetic to Israel, but also by convincing European leaders and opinion-makers that the "deal of the century" is not, in fact, inconsistent with international law and with the two-state solution.  
Early European reactions to the deal provide an indication on how and where Israel should invest its diplomatic efforts. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell issued a statement in which he claimed that the Trump plan "departs from … internationally agreed parameters" and warned that Israeli annexations in the West Bank would "not pass unchallenged." France said it welcomed President Trump’s efforts, would “study” his plan, and reiterated its commitment to a two-state solution and to international law. The British government welcomed the Trump plan and called it “a serious proposal,” encouraging Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate on its basis and insisting that it was for them to determine if the plan suits their aspirations and concerns. Germany was more lukewarm, welcoming on the one hand the plan’s endorsement of a two-state solution but questioning on the other hand the plan’s compatibility with international law. Poland said it saw in the plan a “valuable basis” for future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and Hungary vaguely said that it supports “all efforts” aimed at solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Thanks to the votes of Italy, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, the EU's foreign affairs council was unable to pass a resolution that was meant to criticize the Trump plan and to warn Israel not to proceed with annexations in the West Bank. Israel's "divide-and-rule" tactic among EU members was successful once again. But Israel must also influence European public opinions and decision-makers of the plan's advantages and of its consistency with international law.

Europe's leading opinion-makers and mainstream media are mostly hostile to the Trump plan. Britain offers a typical example: while the British government was forthcoming, most British newspapers are aghast. The Economist asserted that the plan "will not bring peace" and "may spell the end of the two-state solution." A Guardian columnist wrote that the deal must be rejected because it allegedly goes against "countless UN resolutions, the Oslo accords of 1993, the Arab peace initiative of 2002 and the fundamental idea that Palestinians, like Israelis, have the inalienable right to self-determination."
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