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Global Geopolitical Series: EU at crossroads over Middle East peace process

The European Union is at a critical juncture when it comes to peace in the Middle East,

  • At least that is the view of reputed former European Union diplomats and there are 37 of them, who wrote an open letter in UK’s Guardian newspaper urging diplomats to take up actions to avoid a historical mistake. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/14/europe-must-stand-by-the-two-state-solution-for-israel-and-palestine
  • The urgency of the call for action stemmed from the fact that the trans-Atlantic policies are diverging. Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States is adopting policies which are increasingly at odds with the European Union. The former diplomats are fearful that the European Union might be losing its role in maintaining the world order and its influence on global policies.
  • Since coming to office, the Trump administration has taken up actions such as declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and successfully moving its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. President Trump also moved the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), better known as the Iran nuclear accord, which was agreed under the Obama administration between Iran and six world powers (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China).
  • Not just the recognition of Jerusalem, the trump administration has recognized Israel’s sovereignty over disputed Golan Heights that was annexed by Israel in the 80s, re-imposed sanctions on Iran that negatively impact’s EU’s business dealings and investments in Iran that flourished after JCPoA, and cancelled millions of dollars’ worth of aid to Palestinian refugees, which prompted the EU to fill in the gap.

Other than protesting Washington’s decision, the actions taken up by the EU have broadly been muted. While its protests the embassy move by Washington, its diplomats are regular visitors at the embassy to conduct business. There has not been a complete ban of the embassy by the EU.

Former diplomats fear that under Washington’s lead, the possibility of a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fraying, as is the possibility of peace with Iran. Hence the call for actions.

The EU, standing at a crossroad can either heed to the calls of the diplomats and step up its action antagonizing the U.S. or follow the United States’ lead to a different path.

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