There is No Unified EU Position on the Israeli-Palestinian Issue

Israeli media has reported an unnamed EU official said Israel should not underestimate Europe. According to reports, the European official had stated that President Donald Trump’s presidency won’t be forever and may be scrapped. Sputnik discussed this with Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, Israel.

Sputnik: What are your thoughts on the comments made by the EU official?

Oded Eran: The EU official is not aware of the long history of US and Israel relations. Trump will not forever be the president but the friendship and the support of the US to Israel is at least 70 years old, and it will probably go long after Trump is no longer the president. Secondly, the economic relations between Israel and the EU are certainly good for Europe. Europe has exported to Israel $21 billion as against buying in Israel only $14 billion, meaning that the balance of trade is certainly favorable to Europe, and I don’t think that the European economic situation is such, that the Europeans are willing to give away this good market, namely, Israel. The relations have deteriorated in recent years because of the one-sided position of Europe on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sputnik: Do you think that Israel can trust the European Union as a partner?

Oded Eran: I think that we have very good relations on many issues, economic research and development, and even a political dialogue which is not satisfactory, but it does exist. I don’t think that we will entrust the security of Israel into the hands of Europe. I’m not so sure that we will look at Europe as an honest broker if we are to resume the negotiations with the Palestinians. I think the EU has to go along way in order to become more balanced in its relations with Israel on this question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sputnik: You mentioned that the US and Israel have a long history of friendship and this of course the case, although, Mr. Trump has gone quite a bit further than his predecessors in declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, do you think that this stance will continue when Trump is no longer president?

Oded Eran: Usually the American administration honor decisions of the previous administrations.

Sputnik: Except for Mr. Trump…

Oded Eran: Mr. Trump made a change, I don’t want to underestimate it. First of all, there is the legislation that exists from 1995 in the US, in which the Congress had decided that the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem. All previous presidents had decided not to apply this legislation using a waiver which was given to them in the legislation. Mr. Trump come along as a candidate and then as a president and decides to implement the decision of the resolution of the US Congress, it didn’t go, in any way, contrary to what other presidents did, he just implemented the decision. The US recognized Jerusalem as the capital, but Mr. Trump himself limited this recognition to the Western side of the city. He did say that by doing that, it did not extend in the US view the sovereignty of Israel over the Eastern side of Jerusalem, which many Israelis regret, but he didn’t.

Sputnik: Of course the remarks of this official came after Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned Ambassadors of Spain, Slovenia and Belgium after the countries that voted for an international investigation into the deaths of unarmed Palestinian protesters, can you comment on that action? And how that’s going to affect relations with those countries?

Oded Eran: Unfortunately, these three countries which are members of the council voted as they voted, meaning for the inquiry commission, by the way, six other European countries abstained from this decision, meaning that there was no unified EU position on this question. I don’t think that calling these ambassadors to Jerusalem changes in any profound way the relations. I don’t think this vote in Geneva will change much the relations between Israel and the EU.

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