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Middle East 2008
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Israel will now be co-writing
the European Union's
Middle East policies

Per Gahrton, TFF Associate*


December 15, 2008

Under the most complete silence the European Union has decided to establish a Security Pact with Israel. One of the few leaks in Swedish media was an article in Svenska Dagblader Dec 14th claiming that ”EU is re-enforcing its cooperation with Israel”, which is true, but far from the whole truth. At the EU Foreign Affairs Council December 8-9 the decision to upgrade the co-operation had attached to it ”Guidelines for strengthening the political dialogue structures with Israel”, where the following emerges:

1. Holding meetings on common issues at the highest level, i.e. real summits between EU and Israel leaders will be a regular international event.

2. There will be more and broader meetings between Foreign ministers and other ministers.

3. Giving Israel more frequent access to the EU’s Political and Security Committee (PCS). One example could be invitations by the EU presidency to the Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Affairs ministry to come for ”consultations”.

4. Providing for hearings of Israeli experts by EU Council working parties and committees. Such hearings could be undertaken by EU-working groups working on the Middle East peace process, human rights, combating terrorism and organised crime, cooperation in multilateral forums, the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy), the ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy), the Millennium Development Goals and arms control.

5. Organising systematic and broader informal strategic consultations. Israeli and EU policy planners should meet regularly to discuss the EU actions in the Middle East.

6. Intensifying exchanges on specific themes, notably human rights and anti-semitism.

7. Encouraging Israel to remain in line with the CFSP.

8. Enabling cooperation on the ground in the context of the ESDP. Israel could be invited to take part in EU missions.

9. Encouraging Israeli integration and involvement in multilateral forums.

10. Upgrading the inter-parliamentary cooperation by establishing an inter-parliamentary committee.

What does this mean?

First, it means that the EU is praising Israel, giving it a carrot, despite the fact that Israel has done nothing to earn this. On the contrary, when UN human rights rapporteur and TFF Associate professor Richard Falk recently deliberated on getting Israeli leaders tried at the International Court in the Hague, this was only the latest in a stream of devastating reports about the illegal and inhuman Israeli Occupation, produced by all kinds of bodies, from the World Bank and UN agencies, over semi-official institutions like the Red Cross, The Churches of Jerusalem, the EU consulates of Jerusalem to NGOs such as Amnesty and Btselem.

In the eyes of most of the world, Israel has not earned a carrot but deserves a whip, i.e. some kind of smart sanctions, as has been proposed in a UN project by peace researchers in Stockholm and Uppsala.

Secondly, the real implication of ‘the upgrading’ is much more than trade. As the attachment reveals, the European Union and Israel in reality enter into a Security Pact; this means that the EU definitively chooses sides in the Middle East conflict in a rather dramatic way. The rest of the world cannot but regard Israel as an allied of the EU. All possible ambitions by, or hopes that, the EU or EU states would play the role of genuine, impartial mediator must now be abandoned.

Thirdly, with a minimum of insight into EU policy procedures and participation in them, it is now clear that Israel and its security experts virtually enter into the midst of the Union’s Middle East policy-making. Add to that the well-known Israeli skill in lobbying and in influencing opinions worldwide, it is no exaggeration to argue that from now on and for all practical purposes the Middle East Policy of the EU will be elaborated, even co-written, by Israel.  

Fourthly, as a member of the EU Sweden is now automatically a member of a Security Pact with one party to a major conflict that can erupt in any unexpected way. What happens if the Israeli Security Service reveals that Sweden is a stronghold for solidarity with Palestine? Earlier in history Israelis have not hesitated to assassinate citizens of Nordic countries whom they considered too favourable to Palestine, (1948 the Swedish mediator Folke Bernadotte, 1973 a waiter in Lillehammer, Norway, mistaken for a Palestinian mujahid).

What happens of Jihad or al Qaida comes to the conclusion that the ongoing, intimate, cooperation on arms between Sweden and Israel will now developed much further and be more directly targeting the Palestinians, the Arab, the Moslem world?

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A few weeks ago I, together with 43 other Swedes, signed an Open Letter that proposes a Citizens’ Commission to investigate the multi-year “stealth” association of Sweden to NATO and expresses deep concerns about the possibility of Sweden joining NATO as full member. I am in favour of the two hundred years old neutrality and peace-making potentials of Sweden.

Doing so, I could not even imagine that Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt and his colleagues were busy knitting us into another Security Pact, potentially much more dangerous than NATO – dangerous in terms of neutrality as well as of regional stability and global peace.


Per Gahrton

* President of the Swedish Association for Solidarity with Palestine, former MEP Greens (1995-2004) and TFF Associate.



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