“Like It or Not”

The European Union Plays Hardball With Israel

Europe has long supported the Palestinians financially. Trouble is, much of the 4 billion (us$5.06 billion) the European Union has given the Palestinian Authority over the past decade has gone toward terrorism, corruption, violence and anti-Israel incitement. Such was the conclusion of a report released by the Funding for Peace Coalition in August (IsraelNationalNews.com, September 3).

It should be shocking, then, to realize that Israel is being coerced into accepting the mediation of the clearly biased EU in the Mideast peace process. With America’s interest in the peace process waning, Europe is jumping in. Israel, gradually being worn down through continual international condemnation of its policies, appears increasingly willing to “take what it can get”—at its own expense.

This state of affairs is practically unbelievable, given the history of these two entities. Nevertheless, its reality is a gripping illustration of the frightening direction we can expect to see both Europe and Israel take in the months and years just ahead—a direction the Trumpet has long predicted. This is a shocking story you must not overlook.

Back in July 1971, our parent magazine, the Plain Truth, referred to “new calls for Europe to assume a greater role in the Middle East, including the peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli confrontation.” The Plain Truth, under the direction of Herbert W. Armstrong, prophesied that “Europe, and particularly the Common Market [today the EU], is certain to increase its involvement in the area” (emphasis mine throughout).

Then in December 1996, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “Europe is moving not only to be a co-sponsor in the peace process—they want to gain control of it!”

Today the truth in these statements is all too apparent. What were once restrained efforts by the Europeans to edge themselves into the peace process are now out in the open. “Europe wants to be a major player, not only second fiddle to the U.S.,” acknowledged Oded Eran, Israel’s ambassador to the EU, in August. Eran spoke of how important it is that Israel and Europe communicate on the peace process and other political issues.

And what is little Israel’s response? “In principle Israel accepts this idea …” (Jerusalem Post, August 24).

Europe is making headway.

Wider Europe Initiative

The EU’s “New Neighborhood Policy,” known as Wider Europe, is its instrument to draw nonmember “neighbors” as close as possible to the Union without actually becoming members. According to the European Commission, the New Neighborhood Policy recognizes that “the Union’s capacity to provide security, stability and sustainable development to its citizens will no longer be distinguishable from its interest in close cooperation with the neighbors” (Washington Quarterly, Summer 2004). In other words, the EU must develop closer relations with its neighbors in order to ensure its own well-being. Those neighbors consist of 14 states and entities bordering the EU to the east and south.

In the Middle East, the EU is using this initiative to gain what it has been seeking for years: a greater role in the peace process.

Israel is in the first wave of countries, along with the Palestinian Authority, to conduct negotiations with the EU concerning participation in Wider Europe. In August, high-level EU delegates held their fifth round of lengthy discussions with Israeli government officials in Jerusalem. During the negotiations Israel agreed, at long last, to institutionalize a role for the EU in the regional peace process. This was described by EU ambassador Giancarlo Chevallard as a “major step forward” for Israel (Jerusalem Post, August 26).

In October, more intense negotiations took place in an effort to finalize the New Neighborhood Policy “action plan.” Basically, what the plan proposes is increased EU political involvement in Israel’s affairs in return for economic benefits. It would require Israel to “recognize in writing a willingness to involve Europe in a formalized political dialogue on issues such as the peace process, terrorism, small arms, non-proliferation and human rights” (ibid.). In other words, as Associated Press reports, the EU insists that “the Europeans be accepted as major players in peace efforts” as the price for Israel’s admission to a closer relationship with the EU (October 14).

Christina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, made no secret of the EU’s motive: “Of course we want [the Israelis] to trade with us, but we want them to accept the EU role in the peacemaking process” (ibid.).

This is consistent with the EU’s ongoing expressions of its desire for more involvement in the Middle East.

Greater Involvement

Marc Otte is the EU’s special Mideast envoy. He is close to EU foreign policy chief Solana, having served as adviser to him on European security and defense issues. As the Jerusalem Post commented, to talk to Otte is to get a good glimpse of how the EU views issues concerning Israel.

That glimpse is deeply alarming. In a Jerusalem Post interview with Otte in August, here is what he had to say regarding the EU’s role in Israel’s plan to disengage from Gaza and parts of the West Bank: “Countries defend their interests. There are places where you are going to play a role whether another country likes it or not” (September 1). “In the Middle East,” Otte went on, “we are saying to Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians that what they are doing is affecting our interests. … Everyone should stop what is a childish discussion about whether the EU has the RIGHT to do this or that.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer voiced similar sentiments in a regional tour of the Middle East the same month. After meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Fischer told a Jerusalem press conference that “for Europe, we have a stake in the region,” adding that he was talking about “the core of European security in the 21st century” (ibid., August 31). Fischer told Shalom that Europe was now a political force to which Israel should give due consideration.

Again in September, the EU said it would send delegations to Tel Aviv and Washington to push for a leading EU role in resurrecting the deadlocked peace process. The Palestinian International Press Center reported that the EU’s foreign affairs ministers want to fill in the gap in the Mideast peace efforts left by the United States (September 5). Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said that “the EU ministers had agreed to a concrete plan for the Middle East, noting it has marked a new resoluteness …” (ibid.).

In October, Solana made public the EU’s latest effort to join the peace process: a four-point plan to revive the peace talks—along with a warning to Israel that “its aid was at risk if it did not cooperate” (Reuters, October 14).

Such bully tactics would be bad enough if Europe were truly seeking Israel’s best interests. But even as it is insisting on a role in the peace process and greater involvement in Israel’s affairs, it persists in its blatant anti-Israelism!

For example, in August, an agreement between Israel and the EU ended a long-running trade dispute between the two that had threatened to disrupt their free-trade agreement. Under the new arrangement, products originating in the Palestinian territories—which the EU regards as being illegally occupied by Israel—must be labeled as such and will be subjected to duties not applying to Israeli products. This amounts to blackmail by the EU, but shamefully, Israel has acquiesced. Why? “The Israeli government hopes the deal will remove one obstacle to its inclusion in the EU’s Wider Europe policy …” (Financial Times, London, August 11).

Meanwhile, anti-Semitism within Europe continues to increase. Studies show, for example, that in just the first six months of this year there were 519 anti-Semitic attacks in France—almost the same number as in the entirety of last year (Times, London, August 23). The French education minister conceded that anti-Semitism is now more widespread than racism not directed at Jews for the first time since World War ii (Weekend Australian, August 28).

But anti-Semitism in Europe is rampant not only among young immigrants, as some may assume, or even the general populace—it reaches all the way to the top levels of EU leadership.

Whose Side Is the EU On?

The EU has been a major donor to the Palestinian Authority (PA) since 1971. The European Commission says that $3.81 billion was given to the PA from 1994 to 2001. Every month, 10 million (us$12.5 million) go directly into the PA budget from Europe, making the EU its largest single contributor. The European Commission has recently approved an additional package of $155.3 million for Gaza and the West Bank.

Ilka Schröder, a former member of the European Parliament, spent much of her five years in Brussels contesting the way these EU donations to the Palestinian Authority are spent. She has concluded that the EU’s Middle East policy is an “anti-Semitic war it is helping to finance against Israel” (United Press International, August 8). “Most of the parliamentarians are in line with the Commission’s EU policy in the Middle East, and they don’t want to make public where exactly the EU money is going,” Schröder told upi.

At an address given in Israel last December, Schröder revealed what she, as an insider, saw as the EU’s intentions. “The Europeans supported the Palestinian Authority with the aim of becoming its main sponsor,” she said, “and through this, challenge the U.S. and present themselves as the future global power” (ibid.). At an address given in New York, she explained, “You have only to see the exhibitions on Israel and Palestine in the European Parliament’s foyer—where Israel is accused of sociocide and branded as an apartheid state—to know which side the EU is on” (ibid.). Schröder declared that the EU’s primary goal was the internationalization of the conflict “to underscore the need for its own mediating role” (ibid.).

Schröder’s claims concerning the EU’s funding of the PA were so compelling that the EU eventually had no choice but to at least appear to investigate the issue. Thus, late last year, the EU fraud investigation agency, olaf, began looking into just where all the EU funds were being channeled. Interestingly, despite requests for it to be an open investigation, olaf made sure it would remain classified (Daily Telegraph, London, August 5). Under pressure to take action itself, the European Commission also set up its own Working Group to look into the matter.

olaf officials found that documentary evidence held by Israel confirming PA payments made to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis was authentic. The agency has now asked Israel for permission to obtain testimony from al-Aqsa members held in Israeli jails.

However, if previous internal investigations of corruption within the EU are anything to go by, we can expect a whitewash of the EU as the end result. Already, an interim verdict issued by olaf in August stated that there is no evidence that EU funds to the Palestinians have been used to finance terrorism. A spokeswoman for the European Commission said this verdict confirms that it “had put in place conditions and means to ensure that the money is spent correctly” (Agence France Presse, August 11).

What exactly are these conditions and means? On its website, the European Commission states one condition as “a consolidation of all sources of PA revenue in a single treasury account monitored by the International Monetary Fund [imf] …” (europa.eu.int). But, as the Commission’s Working Group concluded, the imf “does not have control over PA spending and therefore cannot know how EU funds are spent” (upi, op. cit.).

This failure of the EU to monitor how its financial aid to the PA is used was detailed by the Funding for Peace Coalition in its 48-page, extensively footnoted report titled “Managing European Taxpayers’ Money: Supporting the Palestinian Arabs—A Study in Transparency.” The report stated, “In their own words, the imf cannot and does not monitor the use of EU contributions to the PA. By claiming that the imf is doing the job of monitoring the PA’s use of aid, the European Commission is in fact ensuring that these funds are not being effectively monitored at all” (page 9).

The report went on to provide extensive evidence of EU funding being used for all kinds of anti-Israel activity. Even individuals officially classified as terrorists by the EU are receiving salaries from the PA. The EU is also involved in the funding of PA textbooks containing anti-Israel incitement and hatred.

With the EU’s blatant support of the Palestinians and actions against the Israelis—such as voting against their security fence in the UN, as our September-October issue reported—there can be no doubt of where the EU’s interests lie. “The way things are right now,” Schröder told upi, “I would expect Europe not to be very helpful for Israel [in facilitating peace], but it would rather increase the danger since any peaceful negotiation at the moment would lead to at least a weakening of Israel” (upi, op. cit.).

Israeli Response

That German-led Europe would be so bold in declaring its intentions in the Middle East, considering its 20th-century history and its current anti-Israel stance, is staggering. That Israel would welcome those designs is almost beyond comprehension. It is, however, in accordance with the flow of events prophesied in the Bible for the end time.

The liberal political element in Israel has long pushed, much of the time behind the scenes, for greater European involvement in the Middle East. But a recent poll of Israelis has demonstrated strong public support for greater integration with Europe and a positive shift in Israelis’ attitudes toward the EU. In March this year, Giancarlo Chevallard (EU ambassador to Israel) presented findings from the Dahaf Polling Institute at a press conference in Tel Aviv. Despite indicating that 74 percent of Israelis think that the EU’s attitude toward Israel is unfair and that the EU is pro-Palestinian, the poll showed that 60 percent of Israelis either support or tend to support the idea that Israel should apply for membership in the EU (Jerusalem Post, March 11).

Israel joining the EU isn’t in question; the intention, rather, was, as a European spokesman stated, to trigger debate on the Wider Europe initiative. On the subject of cooperation between the two entities, Chevallard, speaking on behalf of EU leaders, said, “We feel frustrated. … Israel rarely pays attention to our comments and our demands” (ibid.). How honest.

The demands have continued to come, however, and Israel is responding.

A confidential Israeli Foreign Ministry report leaked to the media in October reveals that the Israelis themselves are coming to the conclusion that they have no choice but to cooperate with Europe. The document warned that Israel could face international isolation over the next several years “if it fails to improve ties with a larger, richer and increasingly powerful European Union” (Associated Press, op. cit.). EUobserver.com said the report sends “a strong signal to the Israeli government … that, faced with an EU which is ever more prominent on the international scene, relations with Europe have to improve” (October 13).

In an interview conducted in August, Ovadia Sofer, former Israeli ambassador to France, stated, “It’s axiomatic, in my opinion, that the EU has some influence on the peace process. We want to use the influence that the EU has on the Arab world to promote our own interests” (Federal News Service, August 30). This despite the fact that Europe has given Israel no reason to believe it has any concern about Israel’s interests—in fact, just the opposite!

So what, specifically, are Europe’s interests? What was Germany’s foreign minister referring to when he said Europe has a stake in the region?

A Stake in the Region

The Mideast has intrinsic value to Europe because of resources and security.

First, Europe is reliant on outward sources of energy—oil and natural gas. The EU, currently the second-biggest user of energy in the world, is becoming increasingly dependent upon imports, with two thirds of its demand currently being met this way. Germany, in particular, imports about 98 percent of its oil. Little wonder that the EU has concerns about the stability of the Mideast in this regard.

As the Plain Truth foresaw as early as February 1966, “Western Europe’s economy is absolutely dependent upon [Middle East oil] reserves. … Any major disruption of this oil supply—such as an all-out Arab-Israel war—would bring intervention.”

On top of that are security concerns over the threat of Islamic terrorism and the Muslim lobby within Europe itself.

At a conference in Germany that focused on the greater Middle East, Foreign Minister Fischer warned that “Europe was at a crossroads in the fight against terrorism and must engage in the Middle East or risk having conflict exported to its doorstep” (News International, Pakistan, September 7). Fischer said that a key to resolving the region’s conflicts was “ending the long and bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinians” (ibid.).

Timothy Savage, previously serving as U.S. consul general in Leipzig, Germany, and currently working as a division chief in the Office of European Analysis at the U.S. State Department, wrote an article for the Washington Quarterly that brought out why the Islamic world is so critical to Europe (Summer 2004). Savage summed up the EU’s interest in Wider Europe as follows: “Growing unrest in the adjacent Islamic world, which also resonates among Europe’s own Muslim minorities; concerns about unwanted immigrants, Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction emanating from the region; as well as energy dependence, all make stability in the ‘crescent of crisis’ a priority for Europeans.”

Savage concluded his piece by saying, “It would indeed be ironic if Islam provided the impetus for redefining Europe, as it did more than a millennium ago ….” Yes, Islam will cause some pretty sudden changes in Europe, but not the way Savage thinks.

A biblical prophecy we have repeatedly drawn attention to forecasts a dramatic clash in the Middle East—a final religious crusade between a Muslim-driven constellation of countries headed by Iran and a Catholic-dominated European Union. “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south [the Mideast power] push at him: and the king of the north [the European power] shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (Daniel 11:40).

In the August 1998 edition of the Trumpet, editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “Notice what their first action is after they are victorious. ‘He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown …’ (Daniel 11:41). They ‘enter’ into the glorious land, or the Holy Land. The Hebrew indicates this is a peaceful entry—not forced.

“The Jews appear to invite them in as peacekeepers. But it leads to a great double-cross, prophesied in Ezekiel 23.”

This dramatic prophecy is what we see now in its early stages. Europe wants to create for itself a sphere of influence in the Middle East. At present, it sees political involvement in the peace process as a means toward that end, but this will not be the case for much longer. Watch for Europe’s continued and increasing interest in the Middle East—which will prove to be solely for its own benefit—with both Israelis and Arabs being the losers.

It will take the intervention of Jesus Christ for the only solution to the Middle East conflict to be imposed (Isaiah 27:12-13; 30:19). With reporting by Donna Grieves