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On Israel, the EU Sides With … Assad?

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
July 17, 2013
Weekly Standard

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This week the EU took a stance that it heralded as pro-peace, pro-"peace process," and anti-settlement. Henceforth, new guidelines require all 28 member nations to refuse any grants, scholarships, prizes, or funding to entities in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Or any part of Jerusalem that was not part of Israel prior to the 1967 war. Or the Golan Heights.

EU hostility to the West Bank settlements is not new, but this formulation is remarkable. First, the stumbling block to negotiations right now is the Palestinian refusal to come to the table. How does this punitive measure against Israel motivate Mahmoud Abbas to start talking? Does it not in fact signal him to keep staying away, only to see the EU hit Israel harder and harder?

Second, it is politically stupid in Israeli terms (as Obama policy has been) because it lumps together the major blocs that Israel will certainly keep in any peace deal, and the small settlements east of the security barrier, places that Israel will have to give up. Many Israelis would back a freeze of some sort for those small settlements and do believe those settlements will go if there is ever a final agreement, but they will not back a freeze in the major blocs. Those towns are thriving and will always be Israeli, so why punish them—and again, why punish them now because Abbas won't talk?


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