One last headache

Future Europe

Federica Mogherini finished her mandate as High Representative of the EU amid a number of diplomatic headaches in the Middle East. Finally,  it was about the colonial settlements that Israeli keep promoting instead of taking down in the Palestinian territories.

The headache was actually caused by the President of the USA – surprise, surprise.  The European Union in November denounced indeed the Trump administration’s shift on settlement policy, making clear that the EU maintains its position that all settlements are illegal and undermine the peace process. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a press conference declared that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, calling the communities not “inconsistent with international law.”[1] The announcement was the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood.

Within an hour of Pompeo’s announcement, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement saying that the organization’s position regarding Israeli settlements “in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

The EU said it will “continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”[2]

What does the future hold for the relations between the EU, the Palestinian territories and ISrael? It is a sort of a one-million-dollar question. And yet Josep Borrell, the new High Representative, was rather clear during the Hearings before the EP, On that occasion, he stated[3] that “if anyone helps the Palestinians today and their right to have their own state, that is Europe. The EU contributes almost one million € a day to attend the Palestinian Authority. We must continue to defend a peaceful coexistence and the two States solution.”

He is also known for being a quite hard counterpart in negotiations, which makes him an interesting interlocutor for Mike Pompeo, although their capacities are definitely different. In fact, the question here is as always how far the Member States are willing to go. And with Hungary turning in favour of the Trump agenda, and the block following Orbàn not getting any weaker in the near future, it is hard to imagine that the EU will suddenly get bolder in the dialogue with the US and the respective stands in global affairs.

Israel is a key interlocutor for the EU in a region dominated by violence. But if the State governed by the most similar institutions to the European ones keep turning to hardliners as government leaders, it is hard for a real dialogue towards peace to take off again. And yet this is what would benefit the EU and its member states the most. Will the EU pursue its utmost beneficial situation for once, or will individual interests driven by political short-term convenience prevail once again? Unfortunately, this is a very predictable one.

[1] See

[2] See

[3] See

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