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(Thaer Ganaim / Maan Images)

Europe kowtows to Kerry on “peace process”

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John Kerry, the man EU foreign ministers must obey.

(United States Congress)

John Kerry used to baffle me.

When he was running for president in 2004, Kerry had to keep quiet about how he could speak French. Being brainy enough to have a good command of a second language was something of a liability in US politics, it seemed.

As most of my American friends were smart and witty, I couldn’t accept this caricature of the general US population scorning education. I still can’t.

Despite the confusion he has caused, I have grasped one thing about Kerry. No matter what language he speaks as secretary of state, the European Union will do what he says.

This week, the EU’s foreign ministers declared their full support for Kerry’s efforts to revive the moribund Middle East “peace process.” Benjamin Netanyahu and his colleagues were delighted by the terse statement which the ministers issued. A more detailed communiqué upbraiding Israel for its ongoing construction of illegal settlements was reportedly binned.

Sacred flame?

Why is Europe voicing confidence in a US-led initiative? By providing $3 billion in military aid to Israel each year, no nation is less qualified to bring peace than America. But speaking the truth about “our friends in Washington” — a term used habitually by Brussels-based diplomats — is taboo.

A recent quote from an unnamed diplomat in European Voice, a weekly paper published in Brussels, indicates that EU officials are seriously deluded. According to this diplomat, the Union was “the only actor keeping alight the sacred flame of the two-state solution” last year (when the US was preoccupied with re-electing Obama).

What is sacred about the “two-state solution”? The idea of building a Palestinian nation on a fraction of historic Palestine amounted to a sordid compromise, to begin with. With Israel ploughing ahead with a massive expansion of its colonization program — by, for example, seizing the area between Jerusalem and the West Bank known as E-1 — there is no longer any prospect of having any kind of viable Palestinian state.

The unholy flame of the two-state solution has, therefore, been extinguished. So why are EU diplomats patting themselves on the back for keeping it alight?

Dithering on labels

The EU has also dithered on introducing mandatory labeling for produce emanating from Israeli settlements. This idea could have been approved by the foreign ministers this week if they weren’t so busy kowtowing to Kerry. Instead, it has been delayed once again.

Andrew Standley, head of the EU’s embassy in Tel Aviv, has insisted that the plan nonetheless remains on the agenda.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Standley presented the move as purely a “consumer protection” issue. “It is important to emphasize that, indeed, it is not a boycott,” he said. “At no time, at no stage, has anyone called for settlement products to be prohibited from entering the EU.”

Standley was speaking about the European elite. Ordinary folk who believe in standing with the Palestinians are calling for a complete ban on settlement products, as well as a complete boycott of Israeli goods (not just those from settlements).

Ducking the issue

Correctly stating where goods originate from would certainly be useful as an awareness-raising exercise. Yet it would duck the central issue that these settlements are illegal under international law. By allowing exports from the settlements to continue, the EU is facilitating violations of international law — something it should regard as far more “sacred” than the futile quest for a two-state solution.

While Standley has hinted that labeling should only be a matter of time, I wouldn’t be surprised if the EU finds further excuses to procrastinate. Israel and the lobby network which supports it are exerting pressure on the Union to drop the labeling move altogether.

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, has written to senior EU figures in the past few days. According to him, the “timing of the labeling move is inauspicious as it is diverting energies that could be better placed supporting positive moves towards restarting direct negotiations between the parties.”

The argument that you shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the peace process is an old one. Sadly, it’s also an effective one.

The EU’s governments and institutions are willing to play along with this absurd charade, in which warmongers masquerade as peacemakers. Everything must be done to avoid upsetting their puppet-masters in Washington. What Kerry says goes.

Comments

all of a sudden America gets a ride ! And I'm suppose to be either shocked and appalled or secretly chuckle at the EU's move. If the YANKEES decide to pull their navy from the Gulf and its army from Afghanistan and Iraq and ends electioneering on behalf of Syrian fundamentalist Moslem insurgences . And was pointed up recently , these -"freedom fighters" are the same gang of sickos that we have been fighting in Afghanistan for the last 11 years and now Obombya & Co want to arm them!!! Lte's face it , if the YANKEES leave the Gulf and the region then the EU will have to cough up money and resources to cover for them. And were is the EU going to get carrier task group to patrol the Gulf? Where will they get the troops to take over America's role in all this? The EU is getting a free ride in all this so it is no wonder that they are cheering OBOMBYA and KERRY! Why wouldn't they ; after all the YANKEES are paying the piper.

Here is an opportunity to listen to Rashid Khalidi’s lucidly talking about Israel, Palestine, US policy in the Middle East and the peace process. As you will see, there is nothing vitriolic, ideological or prejudicial in his talks. On the contrary, these are well documented, responsible and rational arguments expounded with great authority and scholarship:

1. On Israelis, Palestinians and Any Hope for Middle East Peace: bit.ly/ZI1V8x

2. On U.S. Middle-East Policy: bit.ly/12X9BcB

3. About his book “Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East”: cs.pn/100bT6u

To wrap things up, I strongly recommend this talk by Philip Weiss, Stephen Walt and Henry Siegman:

Middle East Policy Council | A Frank Discussion on the future of Israel and Palestine — Expanding the debate: bit.ly/18yzi5Z

Gart Valenc
Twitter: @gartvalenc