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NGO demands overhaul of EU’s two-state policy of ‘double standards and false assumptions’

International-cooperation non-profit ‘thinc.’ shows how EU’s policy and rhetoric on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict no longer aligns with its own interests

European Union flags (Photo: Shutterstock)

An NGO based in the Hague issued a scathing review of the European Union’s policies that relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The report, published on Wednesday by The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (thinc.), shows that the E.U.’s vision of a “two-state solution” does not correspond with the body’s regional interests or reality on the ground.  

“The E.U. advocates for the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the only possible solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This policy has failed the test of history. Today, this E.U. policy no longer aligns with E.U. interests. The legal rhetoric that supports it is redolent with double standards,” the organization said. 

The thinc. report suggests that not only does the E.U.’s position fail to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians, it pushes the possibility of peace farther away. 

Unconditional European financial aid to the Palestinians is one aspect of the problem, the report stated. The European Commission has spent at least half a billion U.S. dollars annually during 2012-2016 in support of the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinian organizations. 

The E.U. member states themselves provided more than twice this amount cumulatively across that period, and the United States’ contribution also reflected an annual $1 billion. 

Though an enormous amount of financing has reached Palestinian recipients, they have produced only “meager state-building achievements,” the report noted. This is “despite extraordinary E.U. and global support for Palestinian pro-to-state institutions of approximately $4 billion USD per annum.” 

“Despite decades of strenuous E.U. efforts, expending tens of billions of euros, the reality is that there is no independent, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state. Democratic institutions of government are lacking, Palestinian institutions and society are corrupt and radicalized. Major Palestinian organizations continue to promote the destruction of Israel and reward attacks on and the killing of Jews,” it stated.

The Hague-based non-profit claimed the E.U.’s efforts are fruitless since they are based on three false assumptions: first, conceptually, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is territorial and not existential; second, legally, that the West Bank belongs to a future Palestinian state; and, third, practically, that the establishment of a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state alongside Israel is feasible. 

To overhaul the E.U.’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thinc.’s report purports to suggest a new way forward, “consistent with legal, historical and political realities,” that it claimed can better advance peace. 

The policy includes a realignment of the E.U.’s policies in the Middle East with its modern interests. According to the report, the E.U.’s legal terminology on the conflict related to its interests in the 1970s. 

“Today, E.U. interests are more diverse, less dependent on oil; Gulf Arab hostility to Israel is abating and Israel is a more significant regional player. The Abraham Accords prove that Arab peace with Israel is not dependent upon the precondition of a Palestinian state,” it read.

Another problematic premise by which the E.U. operates is the failure to acknowledge that Palestinian political organizations, including the PLO and the P.A., “aim not to establish an independent, democratically accountable and peaceful state side-by-side with Israel, but to destroy the Jewish state.”

The report highlighted that, unless this changes, Israel will not accept any solution that compromises its self-defense. It noted that Israel's withdrawal from East Jerusalem and the West Bank is unrealistic due to security risks to Israeli communities.

In addition, the legal language with which the E.U. describes these areas is marred by double standards, according to the non-profit. Moreover, it said that this rhetoric is used to justify policy the E.U. does not apply to any other comparable conflicts or occupations. 

“Instrumentalizing international law concerning statehood, territorial sovereignty, self-determination and occupation by using double standards is an abuse of law,” the report said. “To be clear, Palestinians have a right to self-determination but not an à priori right to a full-fledged sovereign state. The E.U. two-state policy fails to acknowledge Israel’s legitimate territorial rights in these territories. A negotiated peace should address both Palestinian and Israeli needs.” 

In order to establish the conditions needed for Israeli-Palestinian peace, the report concludes that the E.U. should withdraw its support from Palestinian institutions that ignore local power structures and political culture within Palestinian society. 

“The E.U. should not continue to support among the Palestinians the same extremism and oppression of human rights the E.U. opposes everywhere else,” the non-profit said, calling to condition European financial aid to the Palestinians upon their performance in the rule of law, and the fields of civil, religious and individual liberties, as well as tied to normalization of relations with Israel. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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