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November 7, 2014 3:22 pm

A Bold New Voice? Or a ‘Lightweight?’ Concerns, Skepticism Accompany EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini to Israel

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Federica Mogherini, the EU's new high representative for foreign policy, during a visit to the US earlier this year. Photo: Wikicommons.

Israel has tentatively welcomed the dawn of Federica Mogherini’s tenure as the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, but the jury is out on whether she will be a more sympathetic interlocutor than her predecessor, Catherine Ashton.

The 41 year-old Mogherini, who was Italy’s Foreign Minister in her previous job, is currently visiting Israel – her first official trip in her new role. This morning, she met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who baldly told her that “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and it is not a settlement.”

Mogherini has been cautiously critical of the Swedish government’s recognition of a Palestinian state, saying that Stockholm’s decision did not represent the other nations in the EU. In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, she stressed that the real issue was how to establish a Palestinian state in the first place. “I would be happy if, during my term, a Palestinian state were established,” she said.

Over the summer, while still Italian Foreign Minister, Mogherini won plaudits from European Jewish leaders for issuing a statement, together with her French and German counterparts, deploring the surge in anti-Semitic violence on the continent that marked protests against the war in Gaza. “Antisemitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues, have no place in our societies,” the three foreign ministers declared.

But there is little evidence to suggest that Mogherini will deal differently with the Israeli existential anxieties over security that regularly led to diplomatic disagreements between Jerusalem and Catherine Ashton.

Certain of Mogherini’s past remarks about the Middle East indicate that she is a firm believer in the progressive worldview that underpins EU foreign policy. A confidential cable leaked by Wikileaks revealed that in 2006, when Mogherini was working on foreign affairs for the Italian Democratic Left political party, she told a private meeting that “much of Hamas’ electoral support came not from Islamic extremists but from common Palestinians disillusioned with the management of the Palestinian territories by Al Fatah.” Such assessments, which downplay the Islamist ideology that drives Hamas, do not sit well with Israel’s understanding of Palestinian political dynamics.

Her views on Iran also remain a source of concern, given her comment at a recent Aspen Institute seminar in Rome that “ways should be found to involve Iran and all regional actors” in resolving the brutal civil war in Syria; further extension of Iran’s regional grip is, of course, implacably opposed by the Israelis.

As a young political activist in the successor organization to the Italian Communist Party, Mogherini traveled to the West Bank town of Ramallah, where she met with the late PLO chief, Yasser Arafat. A photo of her standing next to Arafat and looking rather star-struck remains in circulation on the internet.

This undated image shows a younger Federica Mogherini with the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Photo: Screenshot.

Most intriguingly, as a student at Rome’s La Sapienza University, she wrote her graduate thesis on political Islam. Emanuele Ottolenghi, an Italian Jew who is presently a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, DC, told The Algemeiner that the thesis was not available in the university’s library.

“It would be very interesting to read her thesis, because it’s probably the only extensive study of the Middle East and political Islam she’s ever written, and it would give insight into how her views developed in her formative years,” Ottolenghi said.

“It would be gracious on her part to release it now, in the interests of  transparency,” Ottolenghi urged.

Ottolenghi observed that mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, for the moment, the only way that Mogherini can make a mark as high representative, given that other key foreign policy areas, such as the fraught relations between the EU and Russia, lie more in the hands of the member states. Additionally, Ashton has retained the Iran portfolio up to the November 24 deadline for a final nuclear deal, and may continue to do so after that deadline passes and regardless of whether an agreement is secured.

So far, Ottolenghi isn’t too impressed with what he’s seen. “She comes out as a lightweight, not as a visionary stateswoman,” he said. “She doesn’t stray from the EU consensus on the need for diplomacy at all costs, and her foreign policy worldview comes from social democratic left.”

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  • America

    It would be very interesting to know what date in 2002 she met with Arafrat. Anyone have that information? Connecting the dots and linking the extremists in her circle is important.

  • Earl Littlefield Jr

    She clearly advocated the destruction of Israel and the undying support of the rabid Arab terrorists. If “the jury is still out”, then there is no jury…..

  • Simone Miller

    I remember when the “Palestine Mandate” was partitioned. The largest area was the trans Jordan, now Jordan and was given to the Arabs. The smaller area, Now the State of Israel, was given to the Jewish People. There is no justification for giving a part of the smaller part to the Arabs. There is plenty of vacant land for them to build on. If they start now perhaps they will have a nation to be proud of.

  • Jordan is Palestine
    Jordan is a country that never existed in history before WWI and nobody is contesting its legitimacy or territorial sovereignty and control. Jordan’s territory was taken from land allocated to the Jewish people. The amount of land taken away from the Jewish people for Jordan is about 77% from the total original allocation under the San Remo treaty. The same powers that established 21 Arab States after WWI, which nobody is contesting either, Established the State of Israel based on the Balfur Declaration. On the other hand, Israel and its Jewish people have over 3500 year history. Many Nations and people are questioning Israel’s control of its liberated territory. No one is mentioning that the Arab countries had ejected about a million Jewish people from their countries, confiscated their homes and assets to the tune of over 500 billion dollars and over 600,00 of these Jewish people were resettled in Greater Israel.
    If this is not discrimination against Israel, I do not know what is.
    It seems like nobody cares about land violations in other countries in the world, but when it comes to Israel, everyone has a say. Israel’s rights in the treaty of San Remo of 1920 are in affect in perpetuity, clearly states that the Jewish people are the only ones with political rights in the British Mandate of Palestine and that the Jewish people can live anywhere in the British Mandate.
    If the U.S., Europe and other countries will stop meddling, and stop its criticism and involvement in the politics of Israel and the Arabs, than there will be a chance for peace.
    We know the great powers are only interested in the OIL and nothing else, that is the bottom line.
    In fact sovereignty of the Jews over Palestine West of the Jordan is supported five ways:
    1. By the grant of the WWI Allies of exclusive political rights to Palestine in trust to World Jewry on April 25, 1920, intended to vest when the Jews in Palestine had attained a population majority. Prior to that time, England abandoned its trusteeship as the mandatory power, and de jure sovereignty devolved to the Jews who attained a majority not long afterwards in 1950 from the immigration of all the Jews in the Middle East who were dispossessed of their homes where they and their ancestors had lived for centuries.
    2. In the opinion of world acclaimed International Lawyers Julius Stone and Steven Schwebel based on Jordan’s conquest of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem in an an aggressive war and their liberation by Israel in a defensive war.
    3. Under US and UK treaty law based on the Anglo American Convention of 1924.
    4. In the historic way sovereignty was gained, by asserting Israeli Independence in 1948 and defending its territory with its blood and treasure, establishing control and stability over its claimed territory.
    5. Under Canon law by a gift from God, as shown in the Old Testament.
    YJ Draiman
    “No Jew is entitled to give up the right of establishing [i.e. settling] the Jewish Nation in all of the Land of Israel. No Jewish body has such power. Not even all the Jews alive today [i.e. the entire Jewish People] have the power to cede any part of the country or homeland whatsoever. This is a right vouchsafed or reserved for the Jewish Nation throughout all generations. This right cannot be lost or expropriated under any condition or circumstance. Even if at some particular time, there are those who declare that they are relinquishing this right, they have no power nor competence to deprive coming generations of this right. The Jewish nation is neither bound nor governed by such a waiver or renunciation. Our right to the whole of this country is valid, in force and endures forever. And until the Final Redemption has come, we will not budge from this historic right.”
    at the Basle Session of the 20th Zionist Congress at Zurich (1937)

  • Dov

    She is a Jeffrey Goldberg only in a women’s skin.

  • David Barrett

    She certainly is a lot prettier than the last representative. Whether her words and approach will be softer will be a matter of wait and see altho there can be no doubt that she was a serious left winger in her youth – anyone who could hang out with that two-faced Arafat has to be regarded with suspicion.

    • JEFF


  • David Goshen

    The EU New Foreign Policy Chief Fredica Mognerini will be very better equipped to advance the Peace Process with the Palestinean Authority if she is updated on some key facts:
    1The extreme unrest in Jerusalem is mainly being orchestrated by Hamas to undermine Abu Mazem and Fatah in the hope that Hamas can win elections in Yehuda & Shomron as well as Gaza.Most of the terror acts though praised by Abu Mazem are only being praised by him because he needs to prove to the UN that his united government with Hanas holds because without it he has no standing with the UN.
    A close following of face book records of those who carried out terror acts recently will prove all perpetrators were sent by Hamas.A close look should be taken in Israel and world wide at facebook writings of likely terrorists-Canada Terror is a good exampe!
    2There are some 40,000 Fata supporters trapped in Gaza since the bloody coup in 2007 who are treated by Hamas as a fith column .An unknown number of theres were executed during the last war without democratic trials claiming they were spies for Israel.They were all confined to there homes during the last war by the Hamas Malitias.The number of their dead are included as civilians killed alledgedly by Israeli forces!
    3The vas majority of the civilian deaths in Gaza could have been avoided if Hamas Militias had allowed locals on receiving telephonic warning to vacate their homes before Israeli Bomings would have been saved if the Hamas Malitias had allowed residentent to take shelter in the tunnels adjacent to their homes or in the large underground military shelters.
    4Statistics of civilian Gaza deaths in the last war are completely unreliable as all Hamas fighters kille were redressed in civilian clothes before bringing them to the hospitals to claim they were civilian deaths The Men Women & Children killed as human shields could sadly not be saved.It is aready known that names included in death lists include names of residents still whole family claimed to have been killed have been found to be alive!
    5There are shocking human rights crimes against local residents which have been heard from clandistine radio brodcasts which require to be investigated,Local Gaza Residents are not able to critize local Hamas Govt for fear of death or injury.
    6The PA has contuducted an ethnic cleansing of Arab Christians in the PA only less tha 50,000 are left from a several hundred thousands and no Arab Christians will be acceped as refugees to the new PA State.The Christian Arab Community in East Jerusalem will be personna non gratain the new PA state.So will all non Muslim Minorities.There are no Arab Christians left in Gaza.In the PA there are no longer Cgristian Arabs to tend theholy places their jobs are noew filled by Muslims.Pope Jonn Paul II gegged Arafat several times to protect PA Christian Arabs from persecutionbbut wihout success.
    7The Agsa Mosque a religious shrine for prayes only.No one should be allowed to sleep in the the mosque nor should they be allowed to hoard war materials to be used to carry out military unrest and they should be cleared every day bu Israeli Police.All civilian places of worship are able to accomodate a certain number of worshipers safely and no numbers in excess should be permitted in.

  • steven L

    Ms. Federica Mogherini has a “leftist” pedigree which does not bode well for Israel besides the fact that most countries of the EU refuse to acknowledge (to do honestly their home work) the > 3500 years of Jewish history in the land of Israel. The few decades of a non-people (most Pal come from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan etc…) is far more important to the EU & US than the 35 centuries of Jewish history.
    On what ground should the burkha lady keep the Iran portfolio?

  • Sunshine

    The EU appointed her. End of story. She’s 41-years old, that generation that produced so many lefties with limited knowledge and a communist at heart. Enough said.

  • Paddy

    All these “former” communists, Maoists and Marxists running the EU. Coincidence?

  • judithg

    she’ll stink just as badly as the deformed chinless one.

  • The Muslims were given the right by Israel to control their Dome of the rock on Temple Mount in 1967, which was built on top of the ruins of the Jewish Temple, but not at the expense of the Jewish peoples rights to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
    If the Muslims can not control their crowd and prevent violence. They must be removed from temple Mount until they can prove that they can control their masses. Otherwise they must be removed permanently.
    The same policy should apply to the rest of Jerusalem and Greater Israel.
    In view of Mahmoud Abbas the murderer incitement for terror and violence, his violations of all the agreements. Israel has to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, They have not lived up to any agreements. They teach their children hate and promote terrorism and violence.
    It is unfortunate that the Arabs cannot live in peace in Israel. A true and lasting peace will bring an enormous economic prosperity to all the people in the region.

  • The world absolves Palestinians from adult responsible behavior

    The fatal flaws in that browned-off appeal lie where? Look for the duty of one party to give and the right of the other party to receive. Defrocked, that’s human rights. What is it but a worldview on Palestinian wants and the duty of Israel to supply them. One is owed, the other owes. There’s no notion of the alms-seeker having to do anything but table maximum demands, then sit back while supporters extort the alms-giver to meet him more than half way. The world absolves Palestinians from responsible adult behavior.

    Israel capitulates to Arabs after defeating them. A first in history.

    The idea of a perennial spoiled kid makes the quip of Israeli politicians a bitter sweet.

    “I think it would be the first war in history that on the morality of humanity, where the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.”

    The vanquished want everything, and they want it on their own terms, unconditionally. Possession may be 9/10th of the law, and Israel may have it, but emulators of Moses put Palestinians above the law. They endow rights upon them which other people can only dream of. Morally, diplomatically or politically – the rights of Israelis can not hold a candle to the rights of fictitious Palestinians in ‘bondage.’

    That was fatal floor one. Fatal flaw two is to forget that a right to self-determination involves another and equal right: ownership. By all means let a people make unto themselves a nation, but where shall they do that? On what, or on whose land? No land west of the Jordan River belongs to Palestinians. Israel liberated its ancestral land the Judea and Samaria aqua West Bank from Jordan, and Arab Palestinians never entered the equation before that happened, or since for that matter. Nor can Jordan demand the land back, considering that it was not the lawful owner at the time Israel snapped it up and liberated it. No one ever built a case for Jordan as rightful and lawful owner of the West Bank. Although, in the mid 1920’s the British in violation of The San Remo Treaty of 1920 had assigned 80% of the land originally allocated to the Jewish people as their historic homeland to the Arabs. That established Jordan as the Arab State for the Arab Palestinians. Jordan a State that never existed in history prior to WWI and no one is questioning it boundaries or sovereignty.
    On the other hand, Israel that existed in the land of the Mandate for Palestine for over 3000 years, everyone puts their two sense and criticizes its boundaries and sovereignty.
    Any Arab Palestinian who is unhappy or dissatisfied living under Israel’s laws, can move to Jordan or to one of the million homes of the Jews in the Arab countries that were taken over by force while ejecting the Jewish people.
    The Arabs under Israeli law have more freedoms and Democracy than in any Arab – Muslim country.
    I state, do not bite the hand that feeds you, the alternative may be that it will bite back and than you will not like it.
    Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens with no holds barred.