Geography and history, modern and older, internal fault lines as well as external interventions, have given rise to a perfect storm in the Eastern Mediterranean. In an arc of fire that stretches from Libya to Syria and can be extrapolated further North, all the way to Russia and Ukraine, a series of conflicts have made this an area of particular instability, for the world as a whole and more immediately for nearby Europe…
On Netanyahu’s use of history to deny the Israeli-Palestinian conflict its political status and history’s consequences for the European Union’s involvement in the region
If it hasn’t been clear already that the Israeli government often exploits the Shoah for political purposes, Netanyahu’s recent speech at the 37th World Zionist Congress provided additional first-hand evidence.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini visited the Middle East in the hope to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority grounded to a halt more than a year ago. The two-day visit (20-21 May) to the region included meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and was aimed at ramping up the EU’s involvement in the Middle East peace process. It remains to be seen whether the EU will manage to fill the void left by the US as a peace broker. Deciding to use its full might in pushing for a feasible solution, including economic sanctions imposed on an unyielding Israel, seems a bridge too far
The Spanish Foreign Minister, the Latvian Foreign Minister, and the EU foreign policy chief co-hosted an Informal Ministerial meeting with representatives of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan, who declared their support for fighting terrorism and curbing irregular migration, two top priorities of the EU’s collaboration with its neighbours south of the Mediterranean Sea. The meeting was part of a series of consultations that the EU initiated with European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries to review its strategy of collaborations.
Shlomo Ben-Ami is an old hand in Israeli and international politics. He has been Minister of Internal Security and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, and now serves as Vice President of the Toledo International Center for Peace in Madrid. This is a summary of a 30-minute discussion with him following the 17 March 2015 Israeli election. He talks about Mr. Netanyahu’s reelection, the state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and possible steps by the international community to move things forward under the current circumstances.
This week Saudi Arabia decided to recall its Ambassador to Sweden after Margot Wallström, the Swedish Foreign Minister, critized Saudi “human rights and democracy” standards. Wallström had been particularly vocal about the case of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger and activist sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up a website called “Saudis Free Liberal Forum”. The Swedish Foreign Minister had described Badawi´s punishment as “medieval methods”.
In a lukewarm compromise among its main parties, the European Parliament declared on 17 December 2014 that it “supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced.” This comes in the wake of similar, and stronger, votes in European national parliaments. It is not enough; the EU needs to drastically review its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in light of the growing sense of unease across Europe regarding Israel’s aggressive settlement policy, and the lack of progress in the peace process.