EU warns Israel, Palestinians of the cost of peace failure

JERUSALEM Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:47pm EST

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (L-R), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni shake hands at a news conference at the end of talks at the State Department in Washington, July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (L-R), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni shake hands at a news conference at the end of talks at the State Department in Washington, July 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Both sides of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks risk paying a high price in losing European Union trade and aid if negotiations collapse, the EU ambassador to Israel said on Wednesday.

For long seen as a "payer not a player" in the region, the European Union has started making clear that its role as Israel's biggest trade partner and the Palestinians' largest donor should not be taken for granted.

"We have made it clear to the parties that there will be a price to pay if these negotiations falter," ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen told reporters.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to draw up a broad framework deal that would open the way for a final round of detailed discussions to end the generations-old conflict covering all the core elements dividing the two sides.

However, despite more than five months of talks, there has been no sign of any imminent breakthrough.

The EU has grown especially frustrated by Israel's repeated announcement since the talks started of new Jewish settlement building on land the Palestinians want for their future state.

"If Israel were to go down the road of continued settlement expansion and were there not to be any result in the current talks, I am afraid that what will transpire is a situation where Israel finds itself increasingly isolated," he said.

A major private Dutch pension fund announced earlier this month that it was divesting from five large Israeli banks because of their operations in the settlements, and Norwegian and Swedish funds are considering similar moves.

DONOR FATIGUE

While EU states are not advising firms to cut investments in Israel, officials say companies might act unilaterally to avoid any backlash from clients increasingly disenchanted with continued Israeli occupation of land seized in the 1967 war.

Israel's pro-settler economy minister, Naftali Bennett, on Monday made light of the possibility of a boycott on Israel and has suggested that the government should look to bolster ties with emerging markets to offset problems with Europe.

Despite Israel's intimate ties with the United States, the European Union is its biggest economic partner, accounting for almost a third of the country's exports and imports. Faaborg-Andersen questioned how quickly Israel could change focus.

"To think you can shift all your cooperation, trade, everything overnight to India, China and Russia, well I have my doubts," he said.

The 28-nation EU has potentially even more leverage over the Palestinians, providing some 1 billion euros of assistance each year to the cash strapped Palestinian Authority, making it by far the largest donor to the West Bank economy.

"It has been made very clear to the Palestinians that just sitting around and waiting is not an option," said Faaborg-Andersen, warning that donor fatigue was already setting in.

However, the ambassador said Israel also risked losing out if an increasingly frustrated EU decided to cut PA funding.

"I think it is realized in Israel that this money is key to the stability of the West Bank and in Gaza. If we don't provide the money … I think there is a great likelihood that Israel would have to provide far more."

(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Comments (16)
One hears over and over again about this need for “Security in Israel,” having been at war for most of their existence. Why this is re-stated over and over again by people, politicians, pundits, negotiators, and all the commentators involved, that is another matter.
The real reason for all this perseveration, {that argument, , (the need for Israeli Security) echoing over and over again}, was never about protection. Since the State of Israel has always been willing to sacrifice some number of their own, in their wars for their objectives. They’ve also had American money and military support and a huge technological advantage over their adversaries, so they never needed to be serious about peace and security in previous negotiations, contracting mostly to their own advantage, having but weak and attenuated accords with Egypt and Jordan, willing to remain friendless and isolated by most of the world, captured by the belief that they themselves are historically doomed to oppression, just for being Jews.
Rather when analyzed and not just stated habitually, you’ll see, that perseveration about security is just a means to justify, rationalize and maintain current policies, to maintain one’s prevailing world view, to maintain their collective knowledge about the issue, to maintain isolation, war, Palestinian oppression and the status quo.
This is because, as stated above, peace and security in the Middle East has never been a priority. If it were a priority nothing could stop a friendship from happening. The bulk of ones resources would be devoted to it, much less most of one’s attention. That alone would insure a peace, and a real accord and that aforementioned security. There would be no need for a wall between Israel, and the Palestinians, the US and Canada.
Since Nation States on friendly terms, tend not bomb each other. Trade and economic barriers would need to be lifted. All kinds of progress would be made, but that’s far to threatening to both sides in the conflict now. They’re being caught in the web of conflict and excitement, unable to see the benefits of peaceful relations, the Israelis believing in the pipe dream ,that they can remain a Jewish state, a Democracy, and in control of the West Bank through military power and control.
Even those in Israel, who today trade with the US and others in the world, are unable to perceive the subtleties and possibilities that exist, if they were at peace with their neighbors, being addicted to the crude impacts of big money, they can’t see that they’re but mired in Idolatry.
This is because people are too busy trying to fulfill their lesser needs. That they believe in the moment are more important. Of course their everyday needs for food, attention and shelter has to occupy some of their time, but until they realize that only their highest ethic is capable of leading them out of the morass, we’re left with the current situation.
Yet one can hardly blame those who have suffered from the effects of the conflict and war, for clamoring for more Security. So difficult it is to shake off their fear and anger, and to grieve effectively, they can no longer think strategically and can only act or op for revenge, or more military security, unable to make safe their grand children in the future, having been captured an made into spokes in the wheel of enmity.
The settlers in the disputed territories regardless of their motivation and those who justify them on the grounds, that they re returning to their homeland, have also been captured by religion, opportunity and ideology, almost a cookie cut match for their Islamic counterparts on the other side, So they’re also unable to play and effective role in the peace process. More likely they’ll dig their hole even deeper, unable to withdraw, having invested, they’re also doomed to endless isolation, conflict and war, having accepted that as their destiny.
Many of who describe their brothers, those who want peace, as a cadre of self hating Jews. Unable to see that utterance as a projection, emanating from their own inner guilt and hatred, having acquired their West Bank Lands illegitimately. Not because it not part of the original Jewish homeland, but because inwardly they know it was taken at the expense of others and taken with the courage of having the bigger stick. So embittered and captured by those decisions, having lost the ability to feel, that they’re willing to sacrifice again, some number of their own civilians and solders in the next violent conflict, and are willing to kill and murder their opposition, in total denial of the damage done to their souls. And eventually to their lands and fortunes due the increasing isolation of Israel by the rest of the world.
The only hope is, if there’s anyone left there, with any perspective, that they’ll start their own negotiations with the Palestinians to live under their rule, so they don’t have to leave their homes.
As for the politicians involved, (who endlessly repeat the need for Israeli Security) they’re the least likely to be effective at providing it, having long before been captured by their assumptions, constituents, the money, the power and the shared and intertwined US, Israeli Military, Oil and Industrial complexes, ultimately responsible for their positions in their hierarchies. Which by definition, has never provided security, being but an agency in the endless cycle of conflict and war, fomenting fear in others and the will in them to defend against it. Unless someday they’ll be able to evolve with effort, out from under their prison guards and jailers.
So this is just to point out an impediment on the ground, that can eventually destroy the Nation of Israel. When once it has aspired to be a light, a hope and inspiration to the world. Now but for a few medical and agricultural advances, has become an object of derision. No longer a example to follow, no longer spiritually admired, no longer developmental, empathetic, evolutionary and heroic in its outlook, getting smaller, crueler, a more selfish people, betraying the hopes and dreams of their fathers, letting little things like security keep them down.

Jan 22, 2014 1:06pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Butch_from_PA wrote:
How dare EU cut investments with Israel. This is anti-Semitic.

Jan 22, 2014 1:37pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mmarco18 wrote:
Beam me up Scotty. There’s no intelligent life down here. See Leslieonreuters for proof.

Jan 22, 2014 1:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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