EU Blows Up Israeli-Palestinian Talks
The European Union is being harshly criticized by advocates of peace between Israel and the Palestinians for a new directive that denies Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem, including the Old City, and which bars the EU from funding or cooperating with Israeli institutions in East Jerusalem or the West Bank.
Adding insult to injury, the directive was announced on the Jewish day of mourning, the Ninth of Av (Tisha B'Av), the date on which Jews remember the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and other historical disasters, such as the Holocaust in Europe. Religious Jews fast for the entire day in remembrance.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the EU move. In an official statement, he said: "I would expect those who truly want peace and stability in the region would discuss this issue after solving more urgent regional problems such as the civil war in Syria or Iran's race to achieve nuclear weapons. As the Prime Minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria, on the Golan Heights and in Jerusalem, our united capital, to be harmed. We will not accept any outside diktat about our borders. This issue will be decided only in direct negotiations between the sides."
Even leaders of the Israeli left are upset at the EU move, pointing out that it violates previous peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians, resets Palestinian expectations impossibly high, and contributes to the sense among Israelis that Europe is so inherently biased against them that the EU can be safely ignored.
“This is the wrong decision. It doesn’t help us reach an agreement,” said Hilik Bar, a member of the opposition Labor Party in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, according to the Times of Israel. “This directive is simply a mistake, a stupid move that strengthens the right’s sense that we are under siege."
Prof. Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor noted that the EU's new policy reflected the impact of left-wing non-governmental organizations, many of which are agenda-driven--and many of which are funded by the EU.
"The new EU guidelines are evidence of the influence of political NGOs--some funded by the EU--on the EU's policies. On occasion we have seen the EU rely on political NGOs' reports without checking their veracity. The practical results," Prof. Steinberg continued, "are worrisome and reflect a faulty and one-sided agenda."