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February 12, 2020 6:09 am

Clueless Europeans Muddle the Middle East Again

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avatar by Ken Cohen /


Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shakes hands with High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of European Commission Josep Borrell in Tehran, Iran, February 3, 2020. Photo: Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS.

JNS.orgThe world would be much better off if the Europeans focused on the problems on their own continent. Instead, the national and trans-national institutions of Europe insist on inserting themselves gratuitously into distant problems of which they have little understanding and zero political standing.

Exhibit A: The present map of Middle East, reflecting dysfunction within nearly all its borders, is largely the work of the nations that comprise today’s European Union (EU). France in particular, along with its World War I ally Great Britain, drew the boundary lines of the Middle East, creating new states and states-to-be under the aegis of the post-war League of Nations. All evidence is that they made a hash of it, and the turbulence that has wracked the Middle East for decades is attributable to European ham-handedness and cultural ignorance in creating its boundaries and ethnic compositions.

Sadly — but unsurprisingly — the Europeans are still at it, most recently opposing central elements of President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. Rather than help, the EU’s posture is more likely to exacerbate one of the key messes it has sustained year after year.

With the EU still in disbelief over the exit of the United Kingdom, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell nevertheless found the time to critique the Trump plan, stating that “the US initiative departs from internationally agreed parameters.” He singled out the need to address the unresolved final-status issues, like agreements on borders, the status of Jerusalem, and the alleged Palestinian right of return.

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In other words, Borrell basically demands that the catastrophic policies of past decades be perpetuated. He may not have noted this, but every prior attempt to address these “final-status issues” has resulted in abject failure — often accompanied by massive bloodletting, as in the case of the second intifada at the beginning of this century.

He also seems to have overlooked the fact that the Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, have steadfastly refused to negotiate with Israel for almost five years. Likewise, Abbas has embargoed any diplomacy with the United States since President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital two years ago.

The European Union, true to its supercilious attitude toward Israel, maintains its diplomatic offices in Tel Aviv, which it has decided is Israel’s real capital — no matter what Israelis and Jews think. The finality of the EU foreign minister’s rejection of the Trump initiative shouldn’t be overstated though. Borrell’s statement was a “preliminary” assessment of the deal. This was because final collective positions of the EU must receive unanimous support from its 26 (remaining) members. Poland, Italy, Hungary, Austria, and two others decided to withhold support for Borrell’s position, pending further assessment of the Trump plan and issues it seeks to address.

The European Union, which has poured billions into the corrupt Palestinian coffers and which allocates tens of millions each year to support NGOs whose only purpose is to subvert Israel, seems not to have noticed that the Middle East of 2019 bears little resemblance to the Middle East of 1949, 1967, 1993, or even 2008.

The Arab Spring upheaval and the unimaginable rise of Islamic State have made all Middle East regimes but Israel’s seem quite impermanent. Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon are independent countries? Check back next year. Jordan and Egypt’s peace treaties with Israel remain reliable? Maybe, maybe not. And that doesn’t begin to address Iran and its proxy militias like Hezbollah, who are digging tunnels under Lebanon’s border with Israel and launching missiles into the Golan Heights.

To the European Union, almost anything Israel does to protect itself is “provocative” and “disproportionate.” For America to insist that Israel receive the “secure borders” promised to it in 1967 via UN Resolution 242 is, in the judgment of the European Union, over-reaching. And the fact that the Jewish people are indigenous to the disputed territories or that the Palestinian Arabs have no inherent international rights to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) has always escaped the European Union’s notice.

The European Union’s initial take on President Trump’s initiative was all too predictable. Their reversion to infantile — and hopelessly obsolete — truisms about the Middle East and its denizens should be no surprise. They are the architects of this mess known as the Middle East. If America and Israel have the energy and creativity to adapt the Europeans’ deluded Middle East blueprints to today’s reality, a simple “thank you” from the Europeans would be nice. In the meantime, the European Union should turn inward to confront its own problems — which, by the way, include rampant antisemitism and related anti-Zionist passions across the continent.

Europe has little concern for Israel’s security, and is advancing tired positions on the Middle East and peace that are long past their sell-by date.

Ken Cohen is editor of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

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