Pushing Israel’s Door Open
Amid recent tension between Europe and Israel, the European Union has made some strident demands for continued involvement in the Middle East peace process. On a visit to Israel on July 23, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told Israelis that the EU “is a very important international power and is going to play a role here whether you like it or not” (Jerusalem Post, July 25; emphasis ours throughout).
This hostile statement came in response to Israeli anger over the EU’s vote against Israel’s security barrier in the United Nations three days earlier. The UN resolution demanded Israel abide by the ruling of the International Court of Justice earlier in the month, which stated that the Israeli security barrier is illegal and must be dismantled.
The 451-mile West Bank barrier currently under construction is intended to increase security for Israelis by impeding the movement of suicide bombers. Even Solana admits the fence has already saved many lives. However, by a vote of 150 to 6 (with 10 nations abstaining), the UN General Assembly agreed that the fence should be dismantled because it cuts through Palestinian territory. The EU’s vote was unanimous in support of the resolution.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responded by telling Solana, basically, that if the EU kept voting against Israel on security issues, it couldn’t expect to remain involved in the peace process.
Solana’s fiery reaction to Sharon’s threat, insisting on Europe’s continued involvement, shows how important the region is to the EU. “Europe has friends, neighbors and strategic interests in the Middle East, Solana said, adding that the EU would not be frozen out of the region’s peace efforts” (ibid.).
In reference to the level of EU involvement in the peace process, Solana stated at a press conference, “We don’t have any limitation on that. We will do it economically, we will do it politically” (United Press International, July 22). He then elaborated on the EU’s “experience in sending police and military forces to other trouble spots in the world …” (ibid.).
Europe certainly is not being put off by Israel’s resistance to its “help”! “The security of Israel and the protection of the Israeli people is something we have always supported and we’ll continue to support,” Solana said (Jerusalem Post, July 23).
Solana’s spokeswoman, Christina Gallach, said she had “no doubt” that Israel and the EU would continue to work together. “We are convinced that Israel does not want to isolate itself,” she said (ibid.). This implied threat became even more specific when—referring to an EU-Israel agreement signed earlier in the month in preparation for Israel’s involvement in the Galileo satellite project—Gallach said, “We are absolutely convinced that Israel wants to preserve that agreement …” (ibid.). Although Gallach said there wasn’t any indication that the EU would cancel the agreement, the point was made: It would be in Israel’s best interests to cooperate with Europe.
The Palestinians, for their part—being recipients of large amounts of aid from the EU—are insisting on Europe’s involvement, with Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat stating, “I don’t see how there can be a peace process without the EU” (Associated Press, July 23). It is true: There is no way Israel can remove Europe from the peace process completely, for it is “inextricably tied” to it via Europe’s ongoing relationship with the Palestinians (Stratfor, July 23).
The EU’s insistence on being involved in the Middle East peace process while at the same time condemning Israel’s own efforts at security shows that Europe does not have Israel’s best interests at heart. What Europe really wants—as history, current events and biblical prophecy reveal—is control of Jerusalem (request Jerusalem in Prophecy). This is why, as our editor in chief wrote back in December 1996, “The European Union is moving to be the heavyweight in the Middle East.”
Israel is rebuffing Europe for now; it does not trust Europe. But Israel has few friends—and few options. The time will soon come when it will welcome Europe’s involvement in its security.
In the meantime, watch for conciliatory behavior from Europe as it seeks to justify a peacekeeping role for itself—which will lead to Jerusalem being surrounded with armies (Luke 21:20).