Sunday

15th Dec 2019

Opinion

EU must counter Kushner's so-called 'peace' plan

  • Instead of discussing solutions to end the 52-year old occupation, US special adviser Jared Kushner (right, with the EU's Federica Mogherini) proposes a "good business plan" (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The Donald Trump administration is set to unveil its long-awaited "peace plan" for the Middle East later this year.

This so-called "Deal of the Century" is likely to be no more than a big sham, and the US-led 25 and 26 June economic peace workshop in Bahrain will hardly change this perception.

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As Federica Mogherini confirmed on Monday, the EU is participating: it's time for the EU to make its voice heard.

Despite the countless delays and ambiguities as to what its 'peace plan' may entail, the US administration has made no effort to hide what's in store.

The US-launched "economic peace" workshop conference in Bahrain is a new step in a series of unilateral measures to pressure the Palestinian Authority, undermine Palestinian refugee rights and rule out the international status of Jerusalem.

In Bahrain, the EU should reject anything departing from international law principles and any attempt to diminish Palestinian self-determination and fundamental rights.

Instead of discussing solutions to end the 52-year old occupation, US special adviser Jared Kushner proposes a "good business plan" that overlooks the fundamental political questions and normalises their underlying injustice.

Unfortunately, the experience in Gaza clearly shows that economic measures alone will not be effective without appropriate answers to the root cause of this injustice. History demonstrates that money cannot substitute for long-term measures when short of political leadership.

Whether an official policy document on "peace in the Middle East" follows the Bahrain conference or not is largely incidental at this stage.

The US administration has already moved ahead with the implementation of its plan, passing over Palestinians' basic rights and leaving behind longstanding international standards as well as core norms such as that prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force.

A human rights-based approach could help the EU overcome the mere repetition of countlessly recycled statements.

European leaders know now which way the wind is blowing and the consequences for international values and human rights principles.

The EU long-held exclusive focus on a non-existent middle east peace process has subordinated respect for international norms to a fetishised expectation of a two-state solution.

In practice, this human rights gap has for decades greased the occupation machinery that renders any solution – under any number of states – more and more unrealistic, while increasingly confining Israelis and Palestinians to a reality of annexation and oppression.

Any genuine policy on Israel/Palestine should turn the paradigm around and put the protection of the collective and individual human rights of every person in the region at the core of any political solution.

Developing a human rights-based approach could help the EU move beyond the mere repetition of countlessly recycled statements and towards effectively reversing the situation on the ground.

Because no man is an island, the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people continuously degrades the notion of human rights as universal values.

For the same reason, the structural suspension of international law in Israel/Palestine continuously undermines the credibility of the international liberal system.

Europe cannot lead the world on Israel/Palestine, but it can certainly play a fundamental role in defending the rules-based international order, not least since the EU's survival as a meaningful global actor largely depends on it.

Author bio

Wadih Al-Asmar is president of EuroMed Rights.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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