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Archive for May 23rd, 2018

Christian Zionism: The Heresy of Choice for Neocons

For each Jewish Zionist there are ten wacko Evangelical Christian Zionists.

At least one in four American Christians surveyed recently by Christianity Today magazine said that they believe it is their biblical responsibility to support the nation of Israel.

This view is known as Christian Zionism.

The Pew Research Center put the figure at 63% among white evangelicals.

Christian Zionism is pervasive within mainline American evangelical, charismatic and independent denominations including the Assemblies of God, Pentecostals and Southern Baptists, as well as many of the independent mega-churches.

It is less prevalent within the historic denominations, which show a greater respect for the work of the United Nations, support for human rights, the rule of international law and empathy with the Palestinians.

The origins of the movement can be traced to the early 19th century when a group of eccentric British Christian leaders began to lobby for Jewish restoration to Palestine as a necessary precondition for the return of Christ.

The movement gained traction from the middle of the 19th century when Palestine became strategic to British, French and German colonial interests in the Middle East.

Proto-Christian Zionism therefore preceded Jewish Zionism by more than 50 years. Some of Theodore Herzl’s strongest advocates were Christian clergy.

Christian Zionism as a modern theological and political movement embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism.

It has become deeply detrimental to a just peace between Palestine and Israel. It propagates a worldview in which the Christian message is reduced to an ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.

Followers of Christian Zionism are convinced that the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the capture of Jerusalem in 1967 were the miraculous fulfillment of God’s promises made to Abraham that he would establish Israel as a Jewish nation forever in Palestine.

Tim LaHaye’s infamous Left Behind novels, together with other End Times speculations written by authors such as Hal Lindsey, John Hagee and Pat Robertson, have sold well over 100 million copies. These are supplemented by children’s books, videos and even violent computer games.Burgeoning Christian Zionist organizations such as the International Christian Embassy (ICEJ), Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) wield considerable influence on Capitol Hill, claiming a support base in excess of 50 million true believers.

This means there are now at least ten times as many Christian Zionists as Jewish Zionists.

And their European cousins are no less active in the Zionist Hasbarafia, lobbying for Israel, attacking its critics and thwarting the peace process. The United States and Israel are often portrayed as Siamese twins, joined at the heart, sharing common historic, religious and political values.

Pastor John Hagee is one of the leaders of the Christian Zionist movement. He is the Founder and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church, a 19,000-member evangelical church in San Antonio, Texas. His weekly programs are broadcast on 160 TV stations, 50 radio stations and eight networks into an estimated 99 million homes in 200 countries.

In 2006 he founded Christians United for Israel admitting, “For 25 almost 26 years now, I have been pounding the evangelical community over television. The Bible is a very pro-Israel book. If a Christian admits ‘I believe the Bible,’ I can make him a pro-Israel supporter or they will have to denounce their faith. So I have the Christians over a barrel, you might say.”

In March 2007, Hagee spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. He began by saying: “The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened. There are 50 million Christians standing up and applauding the State of Israel…”

As the Jerusalem Post pointed out, his speech did not lack clarity. He went on to warn: “It is 1938. Iran is Germany, and Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler. We must stop Iran’s nuclear threat and stand boldly with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East… Think of our potential future together: 50 million evangelicals joining in common cause with 5 million Jewish people in America on behalf of Israel is a match made in heaven.”Christian Zionists have shown varying degrees of enthusiasm for implementing 6 basic political convictions that arise from their ultra-literal and fundamentalist theology:

  1. The belief that the Jews remain God’s chosen people leads Christian Zionists to seek to bless Israel in material ways. However, this also invariably results in the uncritical endorsement of and justification of Israel’s racist and apartheid policies, in the media, among politicians and through solidarity tours to Israel.
  2. As God’s chosen people, the final restoration of the Jews to Israel is therefore actively encouraged, funded and facilitated through partnerships with the Jewish Agency.
  3. Eretz Israel, as delineated in scripture, from the Nile to the Euphrates, belongs exclusively to the Jewish people, therefore the land must be annexed, and Palestinians driven from their homes and the illegal Jewish settlements expanded and consolidated.
  4. Jerusalem is regarded as the eternal and exclusive capital of the Jews, and cannot be shared with the Palestinians. Therefore, strategically, Christian Zionists have lobbied the US Administration to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and thereby ensure that Jerusalem is recognized as the capital of Israel.
  5. Christian Zionists offer varying degrees of support for organizations such as the Jewish Temple Mount Faithful who are committed to destroying the Dome of the Rock and rebuilding the Jewish Temple on the Haram Al-Sharif (Noble sanctuary of Al-Aqsa).
  6. Christian Zionists invariably have a pessimistic view of the future, convinced that there will be an apocalyptic war of Armageddon in the imminent future. They are deeply skeptical of the possibility of a lasting peace between Jews and Arabs and therefore oppose the peace process. Indeed, to advocate an Israeli compromise of “land for peace” with the Palestinians is seen as a rejection of God’s promises to Israel and therefore to support her enemies.

Within the Christian Zionist worldview, Palestinians are regarded as alien residents in Israel.

Many Christian Zionists are reluctant even to acknowledge Palestinians exist as a distinct people, claiming that they emigrated to Israel from surrounding Arab nations for economic reasons after Israel had become prosperous.

A fear and deep-seated hatred of Islam also pervades their dualistic Manichean theology. Christian Zionists have little or no interest in the existence of indigenous Arab Christians despite their continuity with the early church. (And the foundation of the civilization in the Near-East)

In 2006, I drafted what became known as the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism signed by 4 of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem: His Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch, Jerusalem; Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem; Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East; and Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. In it they insisted:

“We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine.

This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of world.

We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ.

Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from ideologies of militarism and occupation.

Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements.

The establishment of the illegal settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall (Wall of Shame) on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state and peace and security in the entire region.”

The patriarchs concluded, “God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.”

The prophet Micah asks, “What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

It is my contention after more than 10 years of postgraduate research that Christian Zionism is the largest, most controversial and most destructive lobby within Christianity. It bears primary responsibility for perpetuating tensions in the Middle East, justifying Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda and for undermining the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

The closing chapter of the New Testament takes us back to the imagery of the Garden of Eden and the removal of the curse arising from the Fall:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb… On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2)

Surely this is what Jesus had in mind when he instructed his followers to act as Ambassadors of peace and reconciliation, to work and pray that God’s kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.

Two-State Solution and the Differentiation Strategy

Note: I wrote many articles on this existential issue. As long as the extremist Evangelical Zionists in the USA believe firmly that the Second Coming will happens when Jerusalem is totally Jewish, reason and rational policies are irrelevant for any feasible strategy, except military re-conquest of Palestine.

Apparently, there are about 50 million of those deplorable Evangelical Zionists in the USA who don’t believe a Palestinian exist. At best temporary residents. And many European States have these kinds of extremist dogmatic religious affiliations. Evangelical Zionist foundation preceded Herzl by 50 years, and it the US supreme judge in 1915 who pressured Wilson to obtain from Britain and Balfour a declaration on a Jewish homeland before joining England in WW!

In an attempt to maintain their legitimacy through International Law compliance, the European Union has continued to support the parameters of the Oslo Agreement and a Two-State Solution.

(Oslo Agreement is the peace deal that Clinton signed with Arafat and Rabin in 1992. After Rabin assassination, the US reneged on its signature and every clause in the deal. Congress went even further and pronounced that Jerusalem is Capital of Israel in 1996)

However, by doing so, it has failed to adjust to the changing realities on the ground and half-measures designed to ensure the geopolitical readiness of the East Side of the Green Line have ultimately failed to move the Middle East Peace Process any closer to a final agreement. (East Side of the Green Line? Explain)

The reasons behind this cautious EU approach to the conflict are complex and, at its crux, revolves around a lack of unity among EU member states; a reluctance to instigate any major confrontation with Israel and their limited power if acting unilaterally without US backing.

With the purpose of understanding the role and limits of the European Union in the Israel/Palestine conflict resolution, this paper places emphasis on the EU Differentiation Strategy and its symbiotic relationship with the Two State for Two Peoples paradigm.

(Paradigm? But the Palestinians lived in Palestine for thousands of years. It is accepting the Zionist Jews, who came from everywhere, as a people that is the new paradigm)

On the basis that the EU’s Strategy aims to build the foundations of a future Palestinian State, it will be argued that the Differentiation Strategy is insufficient to achieve a Two-State Solution as it fails to understand the roots of the settlement policies and the lack of sovereignty in the Occupied Territories as the main obstacle to peace. (Wrong. the institutions knew these facts ever since Israel was recognized as a State, and the European people too)

The European Union has played an important role in the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) being both a supporter of a Two-State solution and a legitimising agent of the Palestinian State –meaning Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem[1].  I

ts role in legitimising a more pro-Arab framework of negotiations has been key to normalising issues such as the Palestinian rights back in the 70’s when only Arab states had hitherto mentioned the word Palestinians or a Palestinian Homeland.

Cognisant of the fact that a unified voice was essential to gain credibility and weight in the world’s International Affairs[2], the European Community further formalised its pro-Arab approach through the Venice Declaration in 1980 by calling for the PLO involvement in the Peace negotiations and the Palestinian right to self-determination[3].

Further to this, the already established European Union committed to the recognition of a Palestinian State in the 1999 Berlin Declaration “when appropriate”[4] and recognised Jerusalem as the capital for both states later in 2009[5].

In this spirit, it has been largely argued that the European Community had set the grounds for the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993[6] which defined the Oslo parameters making the EU the “middle ground” party in the negotiations[7].

Since 1980 it has consistently advocated for a Two-State solution, and the Green Line as the border between Israel and Palestine[8] serving as a normative example internationally[9]. Hence, being this ‘definer’ of normality confers on the EU a certain political weight in international affairs- a fact that should not be overlooked[10].

The European Union, as the largest donor to the Palestinians, has strongly committed economically to the Palestinian state-building enterprise in a belief that occupation will perish under strong institution building[11].

With the final aim of achieving Palestinian statehood, the EU has been supporting the Palestinian Authority institution and infrastructure building[12]. Again, the EU has also taken an economic lead in the Palestinian right to self-determination and demonstrated its commitment to the Two-State Solution by strengthening future Palestinian state infrastructure.

As the Secretary-General, António Guterres affirmed earlier this year[13]-“A two-State solution is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and secure a sustainable solution to the conflict”.

The most recent example of the European Union’s legitimising role in framing the conflict’s terminology and drawing red-lines has been the 2013 Differentiation Strategy. This Strategy has further underlined the European understanding of Israeli boundaries disregarding the “Greater Israel” conceptualisation and set the grounds for Palestinian self-determination[14]. (Actually, even now, Israel refuses to have in its constitution any definite borders for the State)

Although there are precedents of EU´s differentiation between the State of Israel and the West Bank, the Differentiation Strategy has been understood as the crystallisation of these efforts in a more unified policy and a consequence of the European Parliament (EP) and activists groups’ pressure together with the European Commission frustration after the many failed attempts to end the conflict[15].

The Differentiation Strategy needs to be taken in the context of the post-Lisbon era and the increasing power of the European Parliament which has criticised the EU’s hesitant attitude to condemning Israeli unlawful action[16].

Given its less institutional character, the EP has held a more critical view and proof of this is its acknowledgement of the necessity to recognise Palestinian statehood concurrently with the Peace Talks and not as the consequence of these.[17]

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) defines the EU Differentiation Strategy as a “variety of measures taken by the EU and its member states to exclude settlement-linked entities and activities from bilateral relations with Israel” as a means to deter settlement construction[18] and a reminder of Oslo parameters.

When signing the Free Trade Agreement, Israel had to agree to exclude any products originated in settlements, thus, becoming unable to export them to Europe, as well as excluding settlement entities from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme -which provides research grants.

These guidelines prevent settlement entities from accessing EU funds and, presently, 18 EU member states have issued advisories which aim to warn EU businesses of the legal and economic consequences of dealing with such entities[19].

As the EU’s Ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, put it: “The EU said it will accept mutually agreed changes to the pre-67 lines, or whatever the parties can agree on. However, until such an agreement is reached, it will continue to differentiate between Israel within internationally recognized borders and the settlements outside those borders”[20].

The problem emerges when the EU Differentiation Strategy is not consistently applied – as many states have preferred to comply with the guidelines through EU institutions but not bilaterally[21].

The discord among EU member states became even more apparent when in 2015 the European Commission issued an interpretative notice[22] on labeling settlement products to prevent them from having the same preferential treatment Israeli products have in the EU[23] -which provoked strong opposition from countries such as Greece, Hungary and the Czech Republic[24].

Israel responded fiercely to this policy and accused the labels of being anti-Semitic since, contrary to the 2013 strategy, the labeling involved action from the Israeli exporters and not only from Europe[25]: Netanyahu declared, “we remember history and we remember what happened when the products of Jews were labelled in Europe. The labelling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories”[26].

Eventually, the product labeling was not equally applied among member states[27] and sparked strong criticism.

Whilst EU Law aimed to unify EU’s foreign policy on trading and funding issues, it has also evidenced the difficulty of getting a consensus among the 28 member states, given the disparity of their interests and their historical backgrounds –e.g. the tendency of a more pro-Israeli predilection of Eastern European countries[28].

Acting effectively given the divisions among EU member states and their own national and regional priorities as well as interests has been a daunting task thus far. The ascent of Euro-Scepticism after the economic crisis has contributed to the rise of populists and right wing leaning governments which tend to be more pro-Israeli[29].

As a result, any agreement will be based on the “lowest common denominator” [30] explaining the EU’s moderate approach and preventing any drastic measures such as the labelling to be equally implemented or realised.

This lack of unity among member states is also exemplified in the recognition of the State of Palestine. (Actually, far more States recognized Palestine than Israel was recognized in 1948)

When the Palestinian Authority presented its candidature in the United Nations in 2011 and despite a UN report which endorsed Palestinian readiness for statehood,[31] European members could not reach a consensus.

Contrary to what was expected, Sweden’s recognition of the Palestinian State in 2014 was not mirrored by others; the remaining states who today recognise Palestinian statehood did so whilst part of the Soviet Union, and some of these same states, such as the Czech Republic, are now close allies of Israel[32].

The Berlin Declaration which established that the recognition should be realised “when appropriate” is again another illustration of the EU’s overly-cautious behaviour, reluctant to take stronger measures and ´rush into´ Palestinian sovereignty.

As the Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister, Margot Wallström, upheld: “Some will state this decision comes too soon. I am afraid, rather, that it is too late.” (Nothing is too late, as long as the Palestinians are marching every Friday to Return home)

There is no unanimity among European member states on whether the EU should recognise Palestine collectively or bilaterally[33]. Yet, the problem is rather whether it will ever be appropriate: sovereignty should be a priority in the State-Building enterprise but it is undermined by the facts on the ground which are not properly condemned or addressed creating in a vicious circle.

As Lovatt argues[34], the statehood readiness that the EU considers necessary to recognise Palestine can hardly be achieved amid the limitations that the stem from territorial fragmentation in the West Bank. (Settlements in occupied lands are contrary to UN resolutions and should never be a handicap)

The European Union is a heterogeneous actor: to many member states national interests are still more powerful motivators than achieving a common EU foreign policy, making major decision-making on international relations both convoluted and treacherous.

Attempts to promote a more coherent foreign policy by, e.g. the Lisbon Treaty and the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS), have proven to have limited scope for action or effectiveness[35].

On the top of that, instability in the European community -Brexit, the Ukraine crises and the rise of populism, among others- has increased the EU’s challenges[36] deprioritising the MEPP[37].

This heterogeneity hampers the diffusion of its normative discourse and the creation of a single identity. Normative power if not internalised within local institutions loses its full capacity to cause an impact[38].

(And why a few extremist Right wing Eastern European governments, like Hungary, Check republic, Poland..have to officially celebrate in Jerusalem with Ivanka? Is it the trend that every chauvinistic government in East Europe is supposed to lick USA ass in order to bypass EU frustrations with their racist policies?)

In this vein, major condemnation of the settlement policy would entail recognising Israel’s direct responsibility, thus, the EU’s differentiation strategy tends to understand settlements as a separate entity.(This statement is Not clear)

Even when the EU´s infrastructure has been demolished or seized by Israel due to their settlement policies in the West Bank, European foreign policy has always avoided imposing sanctions to Israel [39]which could be partially explained by the cooperative relation between the two actors.

In addition to the individual state alliances, the EU maintains strong economic and research links with Israel, being its main trading partner[40] -cooperation materialised through the “Association Agreement” in 2000[41]and further integrated Israel within the EU market via the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2005[42].

Not only does Israel’s trade with Europe amount to a third of its total trade but also, Israel is one of the most significant trading partners to the EU in the Mediterranean Area and has been ranked as its 24th partner globally in 2016 [43]. Institutional and economic links between Europe and Israel could have reached an “everything without membership” status in 2013 through a partnership offered by the EU if Peace Talks had not failed a year later[44].

In sum and as Freedland well puts it “if one reason for Israel to end the occupation and make peace with the Palestinians was to improve its international standing, that motive has lost its urgency[45]. (Only sanctioning and boycotting Israel is the main pressure effort to rehabilitate the racist and apartheid policies of Israel)

It seems that maintaining trade relations with Israel is still more profitable than promoting its identity with consistency[46]by being more critical of the settlement activity. Still, the EU has continued to place emphasis on its compliance of International Law and in its “middle ground” normative role.

The Differentiation Strategy, or the “New Approach” as coined by Harpaz[47] is based on “‘[T]he respect of EU positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967’”[48] reinforcing its understanding of the conflict.

As stated previously, coherence and continuity confer actors’ legitimacy and, thus, leverage in International Affairs. “EU’s self-identity”[49] is grounded on its “consistency, effectiveness and continuity of its policies and actions”[50] as well as “strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter”[51] as established in the Lisbon Treaty.

European normative power may provide external legitimacy by being consistent with International Law[52], but it does not lead to major changes on the ground. In other words, not rewarding the State of Israel for its settlement policy –referring to the Differentiation Strategy[53] does not halt the settlement policy itself.

Furthermore, if more drastic measures to condemn Israel policies vis-á-vis the occupied territories were to be taken, they would require prior US backing. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, could not be clearer in that respect: “Nothing without the United States, nothing with the United States alone”[54].

The US is the only capable actor of exercising effective pressure on Israel and even if the EU were to make use of all its leverage on both parties, this would not necessarily result in a compromise between the PA and the Israeli government[55]. US approval, as well as support, is required to lead the MEPP[56].

The EU Differentiation Strategy has been insufficient to pressure Israel and failed to force any recognition of Israeli state responsibility as the perpetrator and driving-force of increased settlement activity, by only tackling non-governmental actors based in the settlements[57].

Yet the EU is still cognisant of the dangers this activity presents to achieving a Two-State solution and the danger of reaching a one-state reality. As recently acknowledged by António Guterres: “Negative trends on the ground have the potential to create an irreversible one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the legitimate national, historic and democratic aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians” (This statement is a tacit encouragement for Israel to continue its settlement policies).[58]

The EU has been managing rather than resolving the conflict which proves once again the urgent need for a new “new approach”.[59]A non-confrontational attitude[60]towards Israel is certainly not a strong enough tool to force Israel to reconsider its policy vis-á-vis the occupied territories.

The EU’s relation with Israel is based on a policy of incentives which places the country in a privileged position in trade relations and turns any effort to differentiate Israel from Greater Israel almost purely normative. There is a misconception in understanding settlements as a separate entity from the State of Israel as the Differentiation Strategy does. Notwithstanding that the EU has taken the lead in establishing the red lines of the conflict, these appear to be far too unambitious to properly threaten the settlement expansion.

The European Differentiation Strategy can, thus, be taken as an example of the limits of the European role in achieving a Two-State Solution. Due to the lack of unity among member states, the strong economic and institutional ties with Israel and the difficulty of pursuing a stronger policy unilaterally at odds with the US, the European Union has chosen to take a cautious approach.

Maintaining the current bilateral and multilateral relations with Israel bears more fruit than any benefits reaped from an overt confrontation. Avoiding confrontation still allows the EU to maintain its coherency and, thus, to some extent its external legitimacy.

On the one hand, the Differentiation Strategy can be seen as an EU attempt to preserve its legitimacy internationally since the time for abandoning the Two-State Solution is not ripe after all efforts invested in it and given the unpopularity of the alternatives. On the other hand, it also proves the urgent need for a real shift in the EU’s thinking.

By tackling the consequences of settlement activity instead and disregarding its roots, the conflict has reached a stalemate which has not actively contributed to reaching the sovereignty required for Palestinian statehood and, thus, the achievement of a Two-State Solution.

Despite the fact that a halt or decrease in the settlement activity has not come to reality, the Differentiation Strategy can still be understood as an active approach towards the conflict resolution strengthening the role of the EU as the middle ground party.  Moreover, after the US confirmed its budget cuts to UNRWA, the European Union has pledged additional funds directed to the UN agency and the Palestinian institution-building enterprise[61] which, together with the Union’s rejection of the US latest decision on Jerusalem, can serve as confidence builders for the Palestinians towards the EU.

(The same process with Iran nuclear deal: EU will have to shoulder the compensation for US reneging on the deal)

Amid the difficulties and limitations previously described, the EU has recently taken a more active role in the conflict with the purpose of reactivating the Peace Talks. Its engagement on the ground is now under the scrutiny of the EU foreign ministers who are committed to reviewing the modalities applied thus far. Mogherini clarified in her declaration: “The purpose of this review, that will be conducted mainly by our colleagues in the European Commission, will be exactly to make sure that all the modalities of our engagement will be as efficient and as effective as they can be to reach the goal of the two-state solution.”[62]

At an Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) extraordinary session hosted by the EU earlier this year, the Union has committed to engage in further multilateral talks with the Quartet, Norway and the Arab partners[63].  Further to this, Abbas’s decision to hold an International Conference by mid-2018 which aims to re-address the conflict multilaterally –meaning the Middle East Quartet and the Arab League- was particularly well-received by France and Russia[64].

This new impulse to reactivate and re-address the talks could provide the EU with the space to translate its normative and financial power into significant changes on-the-ground. It remains to be seen what 2018 will bring for the MEPP but the one thing is clear: the EU continues to have a legitimising role in the negotiations despite the limitations.


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