The European Union and the Palestinian Question

The European Union and the Palestinian Question

  • 1 June 2011

The existing consensus concerning Palestine in the European Union has developed since the Venice Declaration of 1980 to recognize not only that a “Palestinian question” exists, but that its resolution lies essentially in the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

This common EU position has been broadly shared by the vast majority of European intellectuals – from Sartre to Edgar Morin – and receives strong public support in European countries. However, the emergence of Hamas as a major actor in Palestine has brought to the forefront European difficulties in understanding political Islam and revealed the enduring influence of Samuel Huntington’s thesis of a ‘clash of civilizations.’ As a consequence, the results of the 2006 Palestinian elections were not accepted by Europe.

The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are encouraging a better understanding of political Islamic movements and making it clear that, contrary to Huntington’s false dichotomy, the aspirations and the demands of Arabs are no different from those of Europeans. As a result, European positions are changing once again. Palestinian reconciliation will likely force European leaders to adopt positions which are closer to those of European citizens. This evolution is also influenced by Turkey, and by the change of policy in Egypt. Furthermore, it is facilitated by the change in the US administration, and President Obama’s Cairo speech which recognized that there is, indeed, a “Palestinian question.”

Europe bases this new policy approach upon a number of ideas, including support for: peaceful Palestinian civic movements; the process of reconciliation; the link between the fundamental rights of the Palestinians and the two-state solution; the importance of the forthcoming Palestinian elections; and the need to involve Turkey and all Arab states – particularly neighbors – in the search for a solution that may involve the recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.

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Wednesday 1 June 2011

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Wednesday 1 June 2011

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