Saturday

8th May 2021

Israel seeks Kosovo-type EU split on Palestine

  • The old town in Jerusalem - the epicentre of the Arab-Israel conflict (Photo: Hadar)

The Israeli foreign ministry is targeting Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia in an attempt to split the EU on giving full UN recognition to Palestine in September.

The diplomatic game plan was put forward in a set of internal cables from senior foreign ministry officials, including director general Rafael Barak, the head of the Western Europe department, Naor Gilon, and the head of the Eurasia section, Pinhas Avivi, to embassies across the EU. The dispatches were sent out last week and seen by Israeli daily Haaretz.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The cables divide EU countries into three groups: countries already opposed to the UN step, undecided countries and resolutely pro-Palestinian countries.

The second group - containing the six former Communist EU countries - is to be the top priority, with the Israeli PM and FM to make visits to their capitals in June.

The anti-UN-move countries are listed as Germany and Italy. The pro- countries are said to be Belgium, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden. France, the UK and Spain are not listed in the cables but the Israeli foreign ministry believes it will be very hard to convince them to go against the UN initiative.

One of the Gilon cables said the EU "will have difficulty reaching a consensus decision on recognising a Palestinian state, as happened with regard to Kosovo." It added: "Our goal is to create a momentum against recognition of a Palestinian state in September by creating a significant bloc of EU states that voice their opposition as early as possible."

The cables say the main message should be that the UN move delegitimises Israel and undermines the prospect of a negotiated solution.

A Barak dispatch said: "Your plan must include approaching the most senior politicians, mobilising the relevant force multipliers [such as local Jewish communities, non-governmental organisations], using the media, influencing local public opinion."

Gilon said ambassadors should try to urge pro-Palestnian countries to stay silent, to facilitate phone calls between EU countries' leaders and the Israeli prime minister, foreign minister and president, to encourage anti-recognition statements by opinion makers and to generate anti-recognition media articles and op-eds.

An Israeli diplomat told EUobserver he had seen some of the cables but could not vouch for the veracity of all the content.

The contact noted that while the leak could generate ill-will, the basic message is consistent with what Israel has been saying publicly all along. "We've been sending a very clear message that if you don't do this [establish a Palestinian state] through negotiations, it could create even more tension, even more instability in the region," the source said.

A senior EU diplomat gave an indication of the lack of trust between EU and Israeli structures.

"The idea of Israel is to create a homeland for all the Jewish people around the world and they are still encouraging people to come. It is not in their interest to have fixed borders because it is unclear how many people they will need to accommodate in future," the contact said.

The EU foreign relations service is currently trying to work out a joint position on the UN initiative and to convene a meeting of the Quartet - the EU, Russia, the UN and the US - at foreign-minister level to discuss a way forward.

Another senior EU official described UN recognition of Palestine as a "train crash". EU institutions are currently trying to persuade Israel to give the Palestinians a real incentive to set aside the plan and to return to the negotiating table.

Tension, confusion behind EU facade on Palestine

Hostility toward foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, confusion over what the Palestinians will ask for at the UN and how major EU countries will react marked behind-closed-doors talks of EU ministers in Poland.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Czech minister plotted to bury evidence on Russian attack
  2. Putin promotes Russia's 'Kalashnikov-like' vaccine
  3. Coronavirus: Indian variant clusters found across England
  4. UN report encourages EU methane cuts
  5. EU court upholds ban on bee-harming pesticides
  6. Israeli tourists welcomed back by EU
  7. EU duped into funding terrorist group, Israel says
  8. Brussels prepares portfolio of potential Covid-19 treatments

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  2. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  3. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit
  4. EU preparing to send soldiers to Mozambique
  5. EU now 'open' to vaccine waiver, after Biden U-turn
  6. EU mulls using new 'peace' fund to help Libyan coast guard
  7. Poland 'breaks EU law' over judges, EU court opinion says
  8. 11 EU states want to cut fossil-fuels from cross-border projects

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us