An unprecedented offer

It was perpahs in December last year, that the EU first offered „unprecedented” political and economic aid as an incentive to push Israel and the Palestinians into resolving their decades-old conflict and to promise them better access to European markets. As repeated by EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton in Munich at the beginning of February the EU would give an ’unprecedented package’ of aid to Israel and Palestine if they reach a peace accord. She spoke after a meeting of the Middle East ’Quartet’ trying to support Israeli-Palestinian talks. To complete the picture, a sort of blackmailing was also in the air illustrated by Lars Faaborg-Andersen’s words (EU ambassador to Israel): “We have made it clear to the parties that there will be a price to pay if these negotiations falter.” Most Palestinians disliked this message. Ordinary people feel in humiliating – cf. the causes of the ‘Arab Spring’ as analyzed by Telhami, S. (2013) The World Through Arab Eyes –  their leaders find it highly, perhaps even increasingly risky. As formulated by Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO executive committee: that “any Palestinian leader budging under financial pressure from the US or EU would lose public support, and if and when this happens, that leader is finished.” These perceptions have not found their way to Brussels so far.

An even more creative offer was formulated last week: the EU would be willing to provide financial compensation for Palestinian refugees and their descendants who renounce their ’right of return’ in a final peace deal with Israel. It appears to be the first time that a senior EU official, Faaborg-Andersen, publicly announced-endorsed such an offer. This will likely be part of the framework (see previous paragraph) of an “unprecedented new partnership” offered to Israelis and Palestinians if they sign a permanent peace treaty. As reiterated by Faaborg-Andersen, Brussels would be willing to significantly upgrade commercial and trade cooperation with both sides – provided that they will finally be ready to forget their history and look ahead. Assuming  good intentions, the EU somehow fails to acknowledge that money, let it be aid, can spoil man and ruin relationships as well.

Ahren, R. (2014) EU ready to pay Palestinians who renounce right of return. The Times of Israel, http://www.timesofisrael.com/eu-ready-to-pay-palestinians-who-renounce-right-of-return/  Jerusalem, 24 March 2014

Amayreh, K. (2014) Palestinians denounce ‘financial blackmail’. by Al Jazeera,   http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/palestinians-denounce-financial-blackmail-2014129131614744621.html, Hebron, 31 January 2014

Reuters (2013) EU offers ‘unprecedented’ aid to help Israeli-Palestinian talks. Brussels, 16 December 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/16/us-palestinians-israel-eu-idUSBRE9BF1BC20131216

EUObserver (2014) EU repeats offer of ‘unprecedented’ aid for Israel and Palestine. Munich, 01 February 2014, http://euobserver.com/tickers/122970

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