MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Thursday, 29 February 2024

Forked road: Editorial on Europe’s divided stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict

While the European Commission president has largely been seen as giving Israel a blank cheque to bomb Gaza, EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has accused Israel of violating international law in its deadly assault

The Editorial Board Published 30.11.23, 06:38 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo

The European Union has long sought to portray itself as a mature voice of reason in the heated debates over the future of the Israel-Palestine conflict. A spate of victories for far-Right, anti-Islam parties in recent elections in Europe, however, has undercut its ability to articulate any cohesive position on a devastating war that is sharply polarising the world. Last week, the Netherlands delivered a mandate that saw the extreme-right Party for Freedom of Geert Wilders emerge as the single-largest political force in that country. Mr Wilders, who has in the past argued for a ban on the Quran, closure of mosques and expulsion of many refugees, is now negotiating with other parties to try and build a ruling coalition. Were he to succeed, his government — like every other EU member state — would have a veto on the bloc’s key decisions. Given his views — including that Palestinians should move to Jordan and give up on their historic homeland — that is a cause for global concern. Mr Wilders is not the only politician on the far-Right to have risen in Europe in recent years. Slovakia is headed by Prime Minister Robert Fico, who in the past has declared that Islam has no place in his country. Sweden, which in 2014 became the first EU nation to recognise Palestine as a state, has, under its most right-leaning government in history, suspended all aid to the Palestinian territories since the horrific Hamas attacks on October 7.

These shifts to the right have come at a time when the EU is already divided. While the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has largely been seen as giving Israel a blank cheque to bomb Gaza, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has accused Israel of violating international law in its deadly assault, which has left almost 15,000 people dead. Germany and France have restricted peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstrations, while Spain, Belgium and Ireland have criticised Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The EU’s credibility in the Middle East had already taken a hit in recent years after it suspended funding for reputed Palestinian non-profits based on Israeli allegations that the bloc eventually dismissed. With the Dutch election verdict, the bloc must choose between the values of freedom and democracy it espouses and the Islamophobic, hate-tinged policies of some leading politicians. It is a fork in the road for the EU’s standing in the Middle East and beyond.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT