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Can we use the EP election to promote peace in Israel/Palestine?

by A swedish kind of death Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 07:48:39 PM EST

Shergald has kept up an impressive series of reports of the ongoing suffering in what was once the British Mandate of Palestine west of the Jordan River. The latest one created a meta-discussion on the lack of comments which produced this comment from metavision:


The fact that Palestine diaries don't get enough attention is sad and I think it reflects our helplessness to make a difference.  

Helplessness is no good, m'kay? So, what can we as fairly bright citizens of the EU do to at least affect change in the EUs part of this? Well, there is an EP election this spring and I have some thoughts about it.

What is the current status?
EU is a part of the Quartet so it is a player. But what is it playing for? What is the current policy? I freely confess my lack of knowledge here, but I hope the collective mind will find something.

Does the EP have a position?
So we have some sketchy idea of what the EUs current policy is, next question comes along. Does the EP have anything to say about it? And has it said something? Enter our scholars of the byzantine relations to explain ... well, something.

Party groups
So the EP has or could have some position or another. But the EP is a parliament, and a huge one at that. What group pushes for what policy?

Who? What? Mep?
And since the groups are much less strict then most parliaments, lets narrow it down. Who are the main players here? Can we identify some bomb-bomb-bomb-Hamas fellow? Do we know who works tirelessly to increase peace? Lets get some personal responsibility on the meps!

And then what?
So we know who should be elected and who should be thrown out. Now what? How do we market this and turn it into leverage? How can we get the message out and the peaceniks in? How can we use the EP election to promote peace in Israel/Palestine?

All we need to do is identify intricate system characteristics, key players, ways of gaming electoral processes and then influence the EU populace. Can we do that?

Yes we can!

(Do we ever do anything else ('cept photoblogging)?)

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by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 07:58:45 PM EST
Thank you for your effort, swedish!

I have sketchy information about EU countries paying lip service to human rights in Palestine, but also signing low profile trade agreements with Israel, which promotes the current status.  It'll take time to search MEP's and parties that are involved and find how internet youth groups'  initiaves are working for possible connections.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 08:24:25 PM EST
So, what do we want the Union to do?

My suggestions would be, in no particular order:

  • Declare the blockade of Gaza illegal and send blockade runners to break it.

  • Suspend various bilateral agreements (trade, economic aid, etc.) with Israel until and unless it starts behaving like a civilised country.

  • Recall Tory Bliar and replace him with someone who doesn't have an atrocious human rights record and who isn't a spineless Atlanticist collaborator.

  • Stop undermining the legally elected government of Palestine.

  • Release "frozen" funds that belong to the Palestinian government.

  • Abolish the list of prohibited organisations (the "terror list"), or at the very least subject it to judicial review. That's a more general point, but it applies to Palestine as well, because Hamas is AFAIK on that list.

  • Suspend cooperation with the Israeli secret police and military intelligence until and unless we're reasonably confident that they don't routinely violate human rights with impunity.

  • War crimes investigations against all suspected war criminals for whom there is no realistic chance of trial in their home country.

  • Total arms embargo against the belligerents.

Of course, most of these can be easily generalised to cover foreign policy in general. For instance, favourable bilateral agreements should always be conditioned upon a favourable human rights record (or, failing that, continuous improvement at a reasonable pace); Tory Bliar is far from the only Atlanticist collaborator who needs to be purged from among our foreign policy mandarins; Legally elected governments should not be undermined unless there is a really, really good reason to do so (and "Washington asks us to" or "we don't like them" are not good reasons...); Europe should not cooperate with secret services who employ torture and similar nastiness; And the Union should not hesitate to press war crimes charges against war criminals (including, by the way, a number of prominent European politicians and members of various European Mil-Ind companies...).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 at 01:26:56 AM EST
This may surprise some people, but I have the impression that Israel is, to all intents and purposes, an EU member - so close is the cooperation between Israel, Mossad, Nato, and the EU in terms of trade agreements and security cooperation.

Israel is also extremely effective in controlling public opinion and cyberspace in Europe.  When I blogged on Timesonline on Israeli/Palestinian issues I was regularly taken to task by a British Israeli - "Dr. Irene Lancaster" who admitted to being paid to monitor and respond to any online blogs which contained "anti-Israeli" content.

She claimed to be engaged in Palestinian Israeli reconciliation work but also exercised her "right of return" to Israel from the UK whilst denying it to Palestinians ethnically cleansed from Israel since its foundation.  Her view - and that of many Israelis, is that the refugee problems in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria are now for other Arab states to resolve and have nothing to do with them.

It should be noted that many of these refugees come from Israel rather than from Palestinian territories whether occupied or not and so their right of return applies to Israel, and not Palestine.

Basically the Palestinians don't matter much in EU real politique, except insofar as they can give rise to security problems in Europe itself.  Trade goes on with the Middle East as normal.  The Arab states generally don't want to know about the Palestinians either - except when they come in useful as a rhetorical flourish when some demagoguery is required.

The Israeli Palestinian conflict is a useful way to keep the arms industry buoyant, to keep the political contributions flowing, and to keep bashing Europeans about their alleged current anti-Semitism and historic Holocaust guilt.  It allows demagogues on all sides to remain in power and keep precious land and economic resources concentrated in Israeli hands.  

Yes, it is a PR embarrassment and maybe they'll get Obama to give the place a makeover - some agreement which gives Palestine Bantustan status within a greater Israel.  It is so sad that the greatest victims of racist genocide are now also in the processes of perpetrating their own, only slightly more sanitised and scaled down version.

I don't ever expect to see a proud, peaceful, and successful independent Palestinian state.  The forces ranged against it are simply too powerful, too ruthless, and too able to manipulate "world" opinion in their favour.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 22nd, 2008 at 10:09:14 AM EST

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