Wednesday

17th Jul 2019

EU gagged on 'fundamental' shift in Middle East

Three member states have gagged the EU on a "fundamental" shift in the Middle East - the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania vetoed an EU statement on Friday (11 May) ahead of the US embassy opening ceremony on Monday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Settlers accelerating facts on the ground at "record" pace, EU report said (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

"Israel and the US are key allies for the Czech Republic. Seventy years ago, Czechoslovakia helped Israel in its struggle for independence and 100 years ago, the US helped Czechoslovakia emerge", Jiri Ovcacek, a spokesman for Czech president Milos Zeman, said.

"The Czech Republic protested against the planned [EU] statement. We appreciate that Hungary and Romania have taken the same principled stance," Ovcacek told the AFP news agency.

That left the other 25 EU countries to issue individual communiques, while reducing the EU reaction to a tweet by its mission in Tel Aviv, which said: "EU & its member states will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem … including on the location of their diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved".

Austria joined the Czechs, Hungarians, and Romanians in also sending their envoys to the US opening ceremony on Monday, leaving 24 EU states in Europe's boycott of the event.

The US move goes in the teeth of EU policy - that Jerusalem should be the shared capital of Israel and Palestine in a negotiated, two-state solution.

It represents the first "fundamental shift" in the Middle East peace process in 25 years, EU ambassadors in Israel and Palestine have said.

The EU should send out an "unequivocal … common message" on non-recognition of the US move, the European ambassadors said in an internal report, seen by EUobserver, in December.

But Monday's EU foreign policy fiasco was already foreshadowed later that month, when six EU states - Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, and Romania - boycotted EU support for a UN resolution against the US embassy relocation.

US president Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner led the White House delegation to the Jerusalem opening ceremony.

"Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it's the right thing to do," Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told them and other foreign dignitaries at an event in the city on Sunday.

The US decision recognised the "truth" that "under any peace agreement you could possibly imagine, Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital", he said.

Reality

John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor, echoed the Israeli leader. "Recognising reality always enhances the chances for peace," he told US media network ABC.

That reality was being accelerated at a "record" pace by Israeli settlement expansion, "including in areas identified by the EU and its member states as [being] key to the two-state solution", the EU ambassadors' internal report warned.

Israel advanced 3,000 more housing units in East Jerusalem last year, the report said, adding to the 215,000 settlers who have moved there since Israel conquered it in 1967.

"We will pray for the boundless potential of the US-Israel alliance & we will pray for peace," Ivanka Trump said ahead of her visit.

But the US decision "ended, from our point of view, the role of the United States as the broker, the owner, of the peace process," Nabil Shaath, an advisor to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania's veto of the EU statement would have consequences for "their relationship with the Arab and Islamic worlds," the Palestinian Authority's (PA) foreign ministry said.

The PA's rival Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, has called for protests on the Gaza border, which have already claimed 42 lives since March, to come to a head on Monday.

EU logistics

The US move will see just its ambassador and his small staff relocating from Tel Aviv to an existing US consular compound in Arnona, a neighbourhood in south Jerusalem.

The rest of its 850 embassy workers will stay in Tel Aviv until a new US embassy is built in Jerusalem in a project to take years to complete.

But Monday's move poses the question whether EU VIPs who go to Israel in future will boycott the new US mission.

High-level EU visits to the city should "ensure that logistics follow EU policy", the EU ambassadors' report said, among other guidelines on how to handle Trump's latest affront to Europe's world view.  

EU discusses new sanctions on Turkey

EU diplomats have discussed which sanctions to slap on Turkey over gas drilling in Cypriot waters, amid Ankara's ongoing mockery of Europe.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  2. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  3. EU proposes yearly rule-of-law 'reviews'
  4. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  5. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?
  6. Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?
  7. Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency
  8. MH17 five years on: when will Russia be punished?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us