Middle East Reasearch and Information Project (MERIP)

Letting Lebanon Burn

Israel is raining destruction upon Lebanon in a purely defensive operation, according to the White House and most of Congress. Even some CNN anchors, habituated to mechanical reporting of “Middle East violence,” sound slightly incredulous. With over 300 Lebanese dead and easily 500,000 displaced, with the Beirut airport, bridges and power plants disabled, the enormous assault is more than a “disproportionate response” to Hizballah’s July 12 seizure of two soldiers and killing of three others on Israeli soil. It is more than the “excessive use of force” that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan decries. 

False Resolution Looms in EU-Israeli Settlement Trade Dispute

George W. Bush’s ever more one-sided interventions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most recently his uncritical backing for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s desired “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip, elicit thinly veiled declarations of dissent from the chanceries of the European Union. “No number of unilateral initiatives on their own can bring about a permanent peace in the Middle East. Everybody knows that,” said Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, speaking for the EU foreign ministers at a news conference on April 16. Peter Lagerquist analyses EU’s policies vis-a-vis Israel. 

On settlement trade, Europe doesn't stand tall

Various EU members have taken differing positions on settlement trade, but the consensual mode of EU foreign policymaking has allowed the lowest common denominator position to prevail. Despite escalating controversy over the settlement trade dating back to 1998, and calls in 2002 by the European Parliament to suspend free trade with Israel outright, the EU’s executive tier has so far stymied any action. What is more, over the past five years, this inaction has gradually shaded into active intervention to forestall, and ultimately render near impossible, future remedies.