EU spearheads change

ISRAEL'S official anger at the Norwegian government stems from the fact that the latter's high-level interaction with the Palestinian PM signals an EU recognition of the new unity government.

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Published: Thu 22 Mar 2007, 8:45 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:58 AM

And since the crucial US-Israel demands — recognition of Israel, denunciation of violence and more than rhetorical respect for previous accords — remains unfulfilled, a much-contemplated EU departure from long-held Western Palestinian policy seems imminent.

Also, Israel's refusal to welcome Norway's deputy foreign minister Raymond Johanson as per schedule will only serve to strain relations at a time when the Israel-US duo's Middle East foreign policy is isolating Washington at an unprecedented rate. The European bloc seems to have fathomed that the show of political maturity exhibited by the fighting Palestinians factions needed a reciprocal response from the West.

How far this split will expand will depend predominantly on the US, since Israel has already responded in typical knee-jerk-reaction fashion, simply refusing to play at all till every rule is in accordance with its wishes.

The next prudent step would be quick restoration of aid to the Palestinian people. As pointed out time and again in this space, the unjustifiable and illegal financial blockade has brought about the worst Palestinian humanitarian disaster in more than half a century. And with the collective leadership seemingly trying genuinely hard to hold the bond, economic revival will bring the people back on their feet probably just in the nick of time.

In indirect ways, the EU stance-softening is also a testament to the success of the Makkah summit. In ways, Saudi King Abdullah’s initiative also banked on political sense prevailing in Western circles should Hamas and Fatah manage to do the right thing. Fortunately, that seems happening.

The present sequence of events also lends credence to the widely debated argument in diplomatic circles favouring meaningful negotiations to settle international disputes. Now is the time to pressure the Americans to shift their stand, a change that the EU is boldly spearheading. Once the Americans are brought on board, the Israelis will have few options better than finally coming round to appreciating the facts.

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