Europe claims that it wants a solution for the Palestine question, which is a fine sentiment. The problem is, Europe can’t agree on what the solution should be and may not even want a solution at all.
Minutes before the end of 2014, European voices were disparate in the UN Security Council during the vote on the Arab proposal calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine within two years. In other words, that the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis resume with a fixed deadline for their conclusion. The draft resolution basically proposed an additional two years of tedious negotiations to add to the experience of a quarter of a century of talks.
The net result was that Europe could not even agree about this. France and Luxembourg supported the Palestinian resolution while Britain and Lithuania obstructed its passage by abstaining. So what exactly does Europe want?
Do European diplomats possess another solution? Or are they prepared to wait for another quarter of a century, as long as the Israelis can maintain their occupation and control of the Palestinian territories; pursues their settlement policies; create facts on the ground in Jerusalem; attack the Gaza Strip; and consolidate their emerging model of apartheid against the Palestinians?
It has become clear once again that the principled statements on Palestine which emanate from governments and foreign ministries across Europe are not translated into practice. When the chips are down, the status quo must be maintained.
Four member countries of the European Union were unable to agree in the highest international forum on a position that gives hope to President Mahmoud Abbas’s programme for a political settlement with the Israelis. It seems that Abbas himself is in his weakest position ever as he continues to lose his already feeble leverage in the political struggle with Israel. This is also the case on the internal front, even within his own ruling Fatah Party. Europe will, therefore, bear some measure of responsibility for his imminent demise since he is unlikely to remain in his position as president for another two years.
Everyone knows that the resolution which Abbas submitted to the Security Council was within the framework of an initiative recommended by the International Quartet concerning the Middle East. It was, moreover, well within the parameters of the European political position, based as it was on the “two-state solution”. Furthermore, it was an attempt to give those Palestinians who have been calling for more negotiations with the Israelis a way out. The politicians who have sabotaged this have a sent a clear message to the Palestinians that they should not even think about an end to the occupation within two years, perhaps longer.
There is a lack of a consensus in Europe on a specific solution to the Palestine question. What we hear are nothing more than generalised slogans that have no connection with reality, except in that they reassure the extremist Israeli government that it can carry on with business as usual.
True, a growing number of European parliaments have recommended that their governments should recognise the State of Palestine, but it is only a state on paper. If it is eventually established
under the present conditions it would also be a state without genuine sovereignty; a toothless entity unable even to defend itself.
Europe, though, does not have the political will to do something positive for Palestine. It is incapable of any real political initiative and probably doesn’t want to do anything at all.