If the ties between the EU and Arab countries are medium-warm and binding, the ties between the EU and Israel are less so. The EU often refers to Israeli actions as “disproportionate,” blames Israel for lack of progress in peace talks, and rarely supports Israel’s right of self-defense. The EU always appears “deeply dismayed” and seems to oppose strongly most of Israeli plans.
The excessive criticism is evident in the statements on Middle Eastern affairs made by Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She has been persistent in her criticism of Israel. Among her more recent utterances was a speech on October 25, 2012, at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo, where she said that, “[Israeli] settlements are illegal, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.” Will no one tell her that the settlements are not the obstacle to peace in the Middle East, and that the Palestinians, who are so eager to make unilateral decisions, are not yet willing to engage in negotiations for a two state solution or anything else?
The EU has yet to appreciate the reality that the conflict continues because of the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the right of the State of Israel to exist. The Czechs, on the contrary, apparently realized that the UN Resolution enabling the Palestinians to be regarded as an non-member observer state was not only a unilateral action by the Palestinians in violation of the Oslo Accords, but also a direct violation of previous commitments — some even to the EU itself — to enter only into bilateral negotiations to determine final status arrangements. For its role in Middle East affairs alone, the EU does not deserve the Nobel Peace Price. The Nobel Committee might more appropriately have sent a donation to the Czech Republic for its truly noble act.
This article originally published at the Gatestone Institute under the title “The ‘IgNobel’ Policy of the European Union on the Middle East.”