Needed: An EU Push on Palestine Peace

As the European Union displays more disunion with Brexit and threats of other exits, a renewed E.U. push for an Israel-Palestine peace accord could give Europe a needed sense of mission, suggests ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

A common theme in commentary about implications of the Brexit vote last week is that both the European Union and Britain will be so preoccupied with sorting out whatever will be Britain’s new relationship with Europe that they will have a deficit of energy and attention to devote to other matters.

Paul Scham of the Middle East Institute applies this thought to diplomacy aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, writing that “it seems unlikely that the EU will be willing or able to focus on Israeli-Palestinian issues for the foreseeable future.” He expects that members of the Israeli government are feeling relieved about that. He no doubt is right on that last point; the Israeli government does not want any diplomacy aimed at ending the occupation of Palestinian territory, and it has been fighting hard to defeat the recent initiative by the French on the subject.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. (Israeli government photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. (Israeli government photo)

But although the general idea of limited time and attention is valid, there is more that the Europeans can, and should, do in making progress on other diplomatic matters, and on the Israeli-Palestinian matter in particular. Look beyond the discombobulation resulting from the British vote and one can see that the initial reactions to the shock of last Thursday probably have underestimated the ability of the Europeans to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Moreover, it will sink in over the coming weeks that Britain might never actually leave the E.U. Boris Johnson (the Conservative Party figure who was a lead supporter of the “Leave” campaign) has good reasons to be waffling the way he has since the vote.

European statesmen also will be able to understand that it is in the best interests of the European project for them not just to sit and stew about the little Englanders. Now more than ever, with doubts being voiced about the future of that project, there is a need for activity that will restore a sense of commonality and momentum to Europe.

The E.U. needs good projects that will show that Europe as a collective enterprise is robust enough that something like the Brexit business will not screw up everything else. Vigorous diplomacy aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one such project.

As a candidate for E.U. efforts it has several attractions. The need for progress on the subject is as evident as it has always been — on multiple grounds, including justice, human rights, stability, and the curbing of extremism. The United States is, despite some encouraging evolution of attitudes in recent years, still hamstrung by its internal politics and for that reason unlikely to function effectively as a fair-minded outsider.

Looking ahead past the U.S. presidential election does not give basis for hope that the United States will play such a role any better than it is now. With the United States self-crippled on the issue, the European Union is the next best actor to step into the role.

The E.U. already has been involved in diplomacy about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, including as a member of the so-called quartet along with the United Nations, United States, and Russia. And now with the initiative of France, one of the most important E.U. members, there is a ready-made current diplomatic vehicle for the E.U. as a whole to help drive.

So get out of the funk about Brexit and get going on this, Europe; you have an opportunity to do yourself good when you especially need it while also doing good about a problem on another continent that has caused grief for decades.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

13 comments for “Needed: An EU Push on Palestine Peace

  1. Hammersmith
    June 30, 2016 at 20:47

    I have read that Great Britain has been Israel’s greatest backer in the EU and that their departure may increase the chances the EU may take a more constructive approach to Israel-Palestine issues as well as Russia.

  2. J'hon Doe II
    June 29, 2016 at 18:33

    What you don’t know attaches itself to Misinformation… .


    But Coates focuses on the totally separate issue of German “compensation” to the settler-colonial state of Israel, portraying it as a positive development that contributed to Israel’s civilian infrastructure and economic growth.

    “Reparations could not make up for the murder perpetrated by the Nazis. But they did launch Germany’s reckoning with itself, and perhaps provided a roadmap for how a great civilization might make itself worthy of the name,” Coates writes.

    There are some gaping holes in this narrative.

    First, it relies on a total conflation of Israel and Zionism, on the one hand, with Jews, on the other. And it accepts uncritically the ahistorical claim that Israel and Zionism were the victims of the Nazis, and therefore Israel was the appropriate address for “reparations,” the delivery of which could offer Germans absolution.

    It also completely ignores the fact that while other Jews were resisting the Nazis, Zionists infamously made a deal with them, the notorious Transfer Agreement of 1933, to facilitate the transport of German Jews and their property to Palestine and which, as Joseph Massad points out, broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany started by American Jews.

    But even if we set these fundamental questions aside, as a practical matter, from the standpoint of Israel’s victims, German reparations were not used to repair but to destroy. The billions Germany gave Israel were an enormous contribution to Israel’s military capacity, enabling its colonial expansion, land theft, military invasions and occupations and further ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

    Despite people pointing out such concerns to Coates on social media and in person (I tried engaging him on the issue at one of his speaking events, to no avail), he continues to invoke Israel as a model.

    Appearing on Democracy Now! earlier this month to discuss reparations, Coates again cited Israel, telling host Amy Goodman that reparations from Germany were “invested in Israel. They basically sold them goods that Israel then used to build themselves up.”

    This is a shameful whitewash of Palestinian suffering that needs to be corrected.

    “Indirect victims of the Holocaust”
    Contrary to the fabrications of Israeli leaders, Palestinians played no role in the Holocaust. Yet they have been made to pay for it with their land and their lives in the name of Western atonement.

    Germany has been sacrificing Palestinians to atone for its genocide of millions of European Jews since at least 1952, the year Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed a reparations agreement.

    As the first postwar chancellor, Adenauer saw publicly compensating Israel as the most effective way to rehabilitate Germany’s image. He also spoke about payments to Israel as easing the way to a “spiritual settlement” for Germany’s “moral and material” debts.

    And Ben-Gurion, facing an ailing economy, was desperate for the resources to preserve and expand Israel’s Jewish demographic majority following the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians by Zionist militias from 1947 into the early 1950s, an event known to Palestinians as the Nakba.

    So against the backdrop of fierce Israeli protests, an Israeli delegation, which included no Holocaust survivors, negotiated a reparations deal despite knowledge that the West German government included many Nazis and Nazi collaborators whose pasts Adenauer was working hard to conceal.

    Adenauer’s chief advisor, for instance, was Hans Globke, a man who helped draft and enforce many pieces of anti-Jewish legislation, including the infamous Nuremberg Laws, during the Nazi regime.

    Since then, Germany has paid some $60 billion in reparations to Israel.

    “This cash flow from Germany went directly to the Israeli occupation machine that has made the Palestinians indirect victims of the Holocaust,” observes author and journalist Max Blumenthal. “The current bloodshed is a result of this policy.”

  3. Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
    June 29, 2016 at 12:58

    I thought that the Europeans were the ones who originally created the whole Middle East problem in the first place!! Now, they will go and some how solve it?! Who divided the Old Sick Man of Europe between themselves after WWI? Who gave a promise to the Zionist Jews to create a home for them in Palestine?! Why were the European Jews pushed out of Europe in the first place?! Why not create a home for European Jews in EUROPE and solve the problem?!

    I find it fascinating how the WEST thinks!!

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      June 30, 2016 at 15:35

      Because Jews didn’t originate from Europe, idiot! Also, why should European countries give up land to people who had no claim to it? That being said, the Palestinians were understandably opposed to the creation of Israel, due to it taking their land away and giving it to a people who hadn’t been there since the Roman Empire.

      • Herman
        July 1, 2016 at 08:37

        Commendable that discourse on Consortium is generally civil and regrettable when someone uses the word idiot to respond. One of the mischievous “facts” bandied about is that all Jews have genetic roots in Palestine. In Rikhard’s comment, he refers to people who haven’t been their since the Roman Empire. Without being precise, many if not most people who consider themselves Jews have no genetic connection to Palestine, their ancestors having roots elsewhere. Sands does a good job describing this in his scholarly book, The Invention of the Jewish People. There was a British military administrator in the Mandate who pointed out to Jewish leaders that the Palestinians were more semitic than the Jews. Whether coincidental or not, he was assassinated by a Jewish zealot.

      • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
        July 1, 2016 at 15:19

        And YOU are calling others idiot??!!……………..

    • Fred Hewitt
      June 30, 2016 at 22:29

      Thank you, Mr. Soudy. I have had similar thoughts for years. A nice country somewhere on the Baltic could be given to the European people who came to Palestine .from Europe and are now taking Palestinian lands.

      • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
        July 1, 2016 at 15:20

        Thank you, Sir. I hope it helps someone up there!!

  4. Zachary Smith
    June 29, 2016 at 12:35

    “Needed: An EU Push on Palestine Peace”

    Not a bad idea at all – if you subtract the subtext of doing it as a diversion from Brexit. Somebody needs to step up for the Palestinians, for it’s quite certain the US isn’t going to be doing so.

    Being in the midwest of the US, I don’t have a good feel for what’s going on in Europe. Some of the stories I read are good ones, some are quite bad.

    Among the ‘bad’ was a recent EU decision to allow the herbicide glyphosate to remain on the market there, despite growing evidence the stuff causes cancer in humans.

    Among the ‘good’ ideas was this one being mocked by a jerk from a UK Libertarian outfit. That Big Business ought to pay something for the workers they’ve displaced is simply awful! Throwaway people – part of the New World Order.

    The European Union is trying to create a law concerning the rise of the robots as they come to steal all our jobs. One of the more ludicrous suggestions is that robots should pay social security taxes for all the social security benefits they won’t get.

  5. Joe Tedesky
    June 29, 2016 at 11:33

    So let me see if I have this right. The EU should make an effort to confront the Israeli-Palestintian conflict, in part as a damage control major taken in response to the Brexit? Sounds, like it could be good for the battered Palestintian, but what will this do for an unemployed Brit? Mr Pillar, I agree this Brexit thing is DOA, but there will continue to be discombobulated English people roaming the isle. Maybe, what needs done is to get the Americans out from behind the curtain, and allow Europeans the opportunity to effectively run their own life’s. This plan that the NWO has been pushing for over the last twenty five years is just not going down as easily as it was pitched, and that’s because it left out ‘the fairness’ which people so desperately desire. The current NWO plan is all about the corporate profit, and not about the well being of the people. It’s a bad plan, but by all means everyone should demand that the Israeli’s treat the Palestintian with all the respect which they have rightfully earned.

    • Peter Loeb
      June 30, 2016 at 09:43


      The “Iran deal” was apparently dead on arrival primarily because the US
      and the west never negotiated in good faith. No sanctions were lifted
      but instead hardened and threats of this and that from the US (US
      Secretary of State John Kerry) to Iran because of its ” unacceptable behavior”.

      In light of the US and western “behavior”, I urge Iran to withdraw from
      the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and declare all agreements
      from the “Iran deal” null and void.

      The Islamic Republic should declare its willingness to rejoin
      the NPT and the almost negotiated ” Iran deal” at a later time


      that the identical procedures are put in place concerning the
      State of Israel. All of Israel’s sites for the manufacture
      should be dismantled completely eliminating all CAPACITY
      for Israel to engage in such activity. Sites for the manufacture of
      WMD should be included (eg drones etc.). There should be
      inspections and subsequent random inspections of Israel
      to insure that there is compliance. Failure to comply with
      the agreement should result in sanctions and, with failure
      of sanctions, embargo.

      Israel is of course the prime threat to peace in the Middle

      The UN General Assembly has passed similar resolutions
      on many occasions by overwhelming margins all of which
      have been blocked by the US at the UN Security Council.

      Meanwhile, the right of self defense of the Islamic Republic
      must be protected in accordance with international law.
      The operation of any Israeli or American planes
      in Islamic airspace must be considered for what they
      are: acts of war, acts of aggression(UN Charter 4(2)).

      Other sovereign nations and member states in good standing
      of the UN must be able to make treaties and agreements
      with any other nations of its choosing. If this is not
      permitted as eminently acceptable “behavior”, all
      Israeli agreements with the US must immediately end.
      Since this is hardly likely to transpire, it might be
      more acceptable to permit other nations the same rights
      as Israelis permit themselves. The fact that most people
      from Iran do not study the Torah as do many in Israel should
      not be a relevant factor.

      The very notion of “peace” as construed by major foreign
      powers (primarily the US, previously the UK) has not
      resulted in anything peaceful for the Palestinian people.
      It is even hard to realize that Palestine was once almost
      completely a Muslim area before its bloody conquest by
      foreigners who claimed they sought “peace”.

      In 1774 a German Pietrist (Carl von Moser) wrote:
      “He who does not love the fatherland which he can see,
      how can he love the heavenly Jeruselum which he does
      not see?”(cited in George L Mosse, THE NATIONALIZATION
      OF THE MASSES, p. 14). Obviously this writer did not expect
      to see and control his Jeruselum. That came only with
      Zionism a century later which was solidly based on pan Germanism
      which apportioned nations by race (Germany for the Aryans etc.).

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 30, 2016 at 10:21

        In there lies the problem. Peter, I could not agree with you more.

    • Herman
      July 1, 2016 at 00:05

      The only workable solution for the long term is a single state where the only border issues are with the surrounding states od Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. This would mean all people within the state of Israel would be citizens of the state. Some will undoubtedly quarrel about the name, but the issue is the rights of the citizens living there. As to how that can be accomplished, Europe and the United States are so compromised as to be rendered useless and the only hope is with the Jewish people all over the world who need to look at what Zionism has done to their own values. Improbable? Yes. Impossible? No.

      As to Jerusalem, holy site for three religions, it is sad to see the flag of any nation flying over it.

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