Ynet: Op-ed: EU foreign policy directorates staffed with internationalist true believers paid to moralize, by Alex Joffe
European relations with Israel are in flux after the signing of the Palestinian reconciliation deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been meeting European counterparts to shore up support for a series of red lines regarding negotiations with a new Palestinian government, namely the recognition of Israel and renunciation of violence. This has met with predictably limited success.
A certain amount of bilateral duplicity is expected in Israeli relations with European countries. British Prime Minister David Cameron met with Netanyahu and then called on Hamas to reject violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and to join in negotiations. But this was immediately undercut by an “unnamed senior diplomatic source” who threatened that Britain would recognize a unilaterally declared Hamas-Fatah state if Israel did not make “substantive progress” – meaning major concessions – to the same Palestinian Authority that has refused to negotiate for more than a year.
Netanyahu claimed to have secured similar assurances from French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and similar threats were made by Foreign Ministry sources about French recognition of a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence.
Both Cameron and Sarkozy need to pander to substantial Muslim electorates, as well as to non-Muslim voters who are, in the uniquely European fashion, dedicated to pacifism at all cost, particularly Israel’s. But there is another level altogether that should be addressed, the European Union and its foreign policy, as embodied by Catherine Ashton.
European foreign policy is a vast new institution. The “European External Action Service” is the diplomatic corps and foreign ministry of the EU, directed by former British Labor Party apparatchik Catherine Ashton. It has a proposed budget of almost $8.3 billion and will have a staff of 7,000 spread out in 137 missions around the world. European Union foreign policy is a mechanism in search of a problem.
Seeking easy targets
The EU strategy is to interject itself into easy targets regardless of the policies of its constituent nations. The EU decision to provide almost $100 million to the Palestinian Authority to make up for money collected by Israel, which will now be withheld from the new Hamas-Fatah government, is symptomatic of this approach. In contrast, EU sanctions on Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime have been limited and halting. Reports indicate that deeper sanctions were blocked by Estonia over the possibility that seven Estonian cyclists kidnapped in Lebanon might be held in Syria.
Filled with stern words, platitudes and gestures, and backed up by vast amounts of cash, the unelected “High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy” and her “European External Action Service” are designed to conduct foreign policy over the heads of citizens of individual countries. The issues chosen, like providing support to the Palestinian Authority, as well as lightweight sanctions on Syria, flatter the non-voting but tax-paying citizens as “Europeans,” and nominally reflect the “values” of Europe, loving peace, hating war, and eschewing conflict. But the independent foreign policy is a massive sales effort for the idea of Europe and, above all, the European Union itself.
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