Europe's Double Standards
Federica Mogherini: Her statements are symptomatic of Europe's double standards (photo: CTBTO Photostream)
Both the European Union and the Obama administration insist that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict needs urgent solution through the establishment of a Palestinian state. Both paint a bleak future for Israel unless the territories Israel conquered in 1967 are turned over to the Palestinian Authority before long.
Judging by the flurry of diplomatic activity by the PA, which is attempting to get a state of Palestine recognised both at the UN and across Europe, one would conclude that its birth is imminent and that, either by consent or by force, Israel will have to relinquish those territories.
As if to underscore its sense of urgency with the matter and its impatience with Israel, the newly-elected, left-leaning government government of Sweden recognised Palestine as a state in October. The French and Spanish national assemblies both held a symbolic vote to affirm the same. So did the "mother of Parliaments" in Westminster.
Last month, the new European Union High Representative for foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, took her maiden official journey abroad to Jerusalem and opined that "Jerusalem can and should be the capital of two states". She also warned, darkly, that the world would not tolerate a "fourth Gaza war".
The Arab-Israeli dispute has always elicited such feelings in Europe — not just a tendency to lean toward the Palestinian narrative on the conflict, but also a sense that time is running out and, unless a solution is reached soon, doom will ensue.
Yet Mogherini's words contain a contradiction which is symptomatic of Europe's double standards against Israel. This is obvious on three counts.
First, much of the "occupied territories" are no longer occupied — yet Israel's withdrawal from Gaza has been met with hostility and belligerence, not peace overtures.
Second, the refusal of much of the international community to let Israel finish off Hamas, which the EU officially considers to be a terrorist organisation, means both that no peace is currently possible and that there will be another war in Gaza at some point.
And third, Europe's approach to Israel is unique, given that in the case of other "occupied territories" Europe has been much less driven by the same adolescent utopianism, and more by a mixture of cynical realpolitik, a recognition of its own limits, and an appreciation that conflict management is often a better stopgap measure.