Jerusalem Capital of Two States?

After conferring for two days in Brussels the foreign ministers of the European Union called for “the urgent resumption of negotiations that will lead […] to a two-state solution with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.” With a soon-to-be-appointed joint foreign minister and the Americans once again committed to bring about peace in the Middle East, Europe too appears determined to finally achieve some result.

The two-state solution is something most European countries have supported for a long time, so what’s new? Well, for one thing, the Council decrees that it “will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem,” unless both Israel and the Palestinians agree otherwise. A way must be found for Jerusalem itself to become the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state — “through negotiations.”

The Europeans made a point to condemn Israel’s settlement activity, reiterating their position that “the separation barrier [was] built on occupied land” and that the “demolition of homes and evictions are illegal under international law.” Israel must halt all construction of settlements, says the Council, even when these are justified as constituting “natural growth”.

Israel responded by describing the positions of the Europeans as “extreme.” In an official reaction, the Israeli government opined that the Council ignored “the primary obstacle to achieving a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians: the Palestinian refusal to return to the negotiating table.” Quite true.

“Given the Israel government’s efforts to renew the negotiations,” the Israelis continued, “Israel regrets that the EU has chosen to adopt a text that, although containing nothing new, does not contribute to the renewal of negotiations.” Also quite true. As far as the declaration is concerned, the Europeans have proposed no specific new measures to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the table. Perhaps they are counting on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mr Tony Blair, who is still supposed to be our foremost representative in the region after all, to do the heavy lifting? The two met earlier today to discuss whatever progress has been made in the region — which, due to the Obama Administration’s rather unwise approach to the situation isn’t much to speak of yet.

Comments

  1. What right has the EU to intefere in what is essential an Israeli Internal security problem? On the international stage where the strong ddo what they will and the weak suffer what they must, perhaps its time things were allowed to reach a more natural conclusion instead of all this back-and-forth and interupting.

  2. The entire political process of the last sixty years has been towards creating a global community where that policy that you advocate James is no longer possible. Letting Israel get away with large scale territorial theft (because that’s what it is) flies in the face of that development, not to mention morality and common sense. If Israel cannot be brought to heel then the already low credibility of UN resolutions and western policies will implode.

    Also, if the majority of events occurs on territory outside your borders its not an internal security matter, by definition.

  3. I’m inclined to agree with Johan. Although the reality is still very much that the stronger states rule, the whole point of having things like the United Nations, the G-20, even the EU to a certain extent, is to prevent the stronger to prosper at the expense of the weak.

    Still—the Israeli-Palestine conflict isn’t exactly Europe’s business.

  4. If we want an end to the Israeli-Palestine conflict, let one of them win.

    “The entire political process of the last sixty years has been towards creating a global community where that policy that you advocate James is no longer possible.” But it does continue to happen. Strong states still do what will in perception of what think is right. Russia’s actions against Georgia, the US in Iraq and so on. States go to war because they aren’t happy with the way the peace is/is going.
    “ Letting Israel get away with large scale territorial theft (because that’s what it is) flies in the face of that development, not to mention morality and common sense.” Your/our/modern European sense of morality is not a universal concept. Partly a reason why these conflicts keep flaring up.
    “If Israel cannot be brought to heel then the already low credibility of UN resolutions and western policies will implode.” It may be one of the last nails in the coffin for UN attempts in the region but it’s already dying a slow death.
    “Also, if the majority of events occurs on territory outside your borders its not an internal security matter, by definition.”It’s not like these places wouldn’t be provinces of Israel, if Israel had a free hand in the matter. It’d probably solve the problems if they were. Any half measure is going to be worse than proper solution.

  5. “But it does continue to happen. Strong states still do what will in perception of what think is right. Russia’s actions against Georgia, the US in Iraq and so on. States go to war because they aren’t happy with the way the peace is/is going.” Did I claim that it isn’t happening? Israel is far from alone in this regard. My point was that it flies in the face of what has one the whole been a rather effective development, that should continue.

    “Your/our/modern European sense of morality is not a universal concept. Partly a reason why these conflicts keep flaring up.” Quite right. Yet Europeans aren’t the only one criticizing Israel are they?

    “It’s not like these places wouldn’t be provinces of Israel, if Israel had a free hand in the matter. It’d probably solve the problems if they were. Any half measure is going to be worse than proper solution.” Well I agree with you that halfmeasures may only worsen the situation. But annexing the Palestinian territories is no solution, it would only create a massive refugee problem that would further destabilize already unstable states like Lebanon. In the short term it may bring some stability but in the long term it will only worsen the problem.

  6. Israel’s going to do what it wants, and one has to question the EU’s interference in an Israeli security matter. If Israel doesn’t like the EU’s verdict on a joint-capital or other suggestions, its not obliged to follow them. They have the land and if they don’t want to get rid of it, then they’re more than capable of ensuring that they don’t.
    Whilst it’s not just Europeans (although it’s EU interference which is the subject of the article) criticising Israel, they probably have other reasons for claiming some moral high-ground compared to Iranians, Syrians Quataris and so on, for moral outrage at Israeli policies. I didn’t say it was just Europeans. What you may think of as property theft of whole tracts of land, some, including some Israelis I dare say, wouldn’t see it quite like that. Likewise, a shared state solution may cause moral outrage amongst some, the very existence of Israel, even, offends somebody’s morals. This is what I mean by no universal morality on the subject.

  7. Of course there’s no universal morality on the subject. Yet since that applies to essentially everything does that mean we cannot complain about anything ever? Should one not be able to protest when one sees human rights abuses. There are people out there who think genocide is a good solution to their problems, does that means we should simply ignore them unless they act as a threat against us?

    Morality aside, I still think that allout annexation will only solve the problem in a very short term and make it even worse in the long term.

  8. I wonder though if it’s really Europe’s place to do the criticizing. What has Europe done for Israel lately? Or, more broadly, what has Europe done about the Israeli-Palestine conflict for the past few decades? Very little, as far as I can recall. The US is in a much better position to try and bring the two parties together again.

  9. The EU’s role, I suppose, has mostly just been providing fora, and despite Bill Clinton’s worthy efforts in the region, the US isn’t the most popular of states in the Middle East. Thay may have some impact on talks and what not. As I said earlier, I don’t see what business it is of the EU’s though. Perhaps the new foreign minister will have some input with TB and an ethical framework will be set for the EU’s ‘foregin policy’

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