Thursday, March 19, 2015

Israel relations with EU won't be as bad as they say


...Indeed, senior officials in Brussels cynically mocked the prospect of the EU actually trying to punish Israel for lack of progress on the peace process, according to the report.
The director of the Center for European Studies at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliyah, Dr. Esther Lopatin, concurred, arguing that the fear that mighty Europe is about to exert heavy pressure on Israel has been exaggerated. Rather than alienate Israel, the EU is keen to increase academic, scientific and economic cooperation, she said. “There’s an acknowledgement in Europe that there a lot of smart people here who could help Europe.”
More importantly, she continued, political and societal trends within Europe will lead Brussels to take an increasingly benign attitude toward Jerusalem. The European Parliament, for instance, is increasingly dominated by center-right parties sympathetic toward Israel.
A case in point: Left-wing parties last year tried to pass a motion calling for the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. The center-right lists, however, succeeded in watering down the text of the resolution, adding the provision that such a recognition “should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced.”
“That was a victory” for Israel, Lopatin said, in that it basically reflects the government’s own position: that a Palestinian state can only come about as the result of negotiations.
European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (C) speaks during a debate on the recognition of Palestinian statehood, on November 26, 2014 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (photo credit: AFP/Frederick Florin)
Federica Mogherini during a debate on the recognition of Palestinian statehood, November 26, 2014 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg (photo credit: AFP/Frederick Florin)
Furthermore, the arrival on the scene of the Islamic State causes many Europeans to identify with Israel’s plight. Indeed, she argued, threats of homegrown Islamist fundamentalism slowly breed understanding for Jerusalem’s positions on the peace process.
“In the past, there was a consensus in Europe, which was to be very critical of Israel and attack it all the time. I see now for the first time the beginning of friction in this camp,” she said.
To be sure, senior policymakers in Brussels told her repeatedly that they will “no longer tolerate” Israeli obduracy on the Palestinian front, Lopatin said. “But rhetoric is one thing, and action is something else.” Yes, the EU will continue to try to pressure Jerusalem on the peace process, but mainly by making statements and not by implementing punitive measures, she predicted. “Here and there we’re going to see things. But it’s not going to be very significant.”

Read more: International pressure to grow after election, but sky won’t fall | The Times of Israel
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