December 2, 2014 | Quote

Echoing European Frustration With Stalled Peace Talks, France Votes for Palestinian Statehood

Nevertheless with peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled since last spring, European leaders have increasingly become impatient.

“The predominate perception in Europe still blames Israel for the lack of progress for peace, not the Palestinians,” Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told

“They think that somehow recognizing Palestine as a state will somehow send a message to Israel (that) unless Israel does things differently there will be negative political repercussions,” he added.

In early November, the European Union’s new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini visited Israel, as well as Gaza and the West Bank, declaring a real “urgency” to end the conflict and reiterating that one of the EU’s top foreign policy goals was the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“We need a Palestinian state — that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union,” Mogherini said during her visit to Gaza.

However, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven also dismissed the current status quo, saying that “it’s time to do something different. We wanted to make the balance less uneven between the two parties,” according to the French daily Les Echos.

Ottolenghi believes that European motivation “is a rather skewed view of the realities on the ground and what is driving the conflict,” he said. “There is an inclination to excuse the Palestinians for their actions while over emphasizing the role that the [Israeli] settlements play in the conflict.”

At the same time, the souring political relationship between Israel and the EU may also spill over to the economic realm. The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner with total trade around $37 billion a year. Israel also has an Association Agreement with the EU that covers cooperation in trade, science and culture. For many EU states, Israel is an important source of high-tech, scientific and defense technology.

“It is very hard to undo such a complex commercial and economic partnership between nations. I‘m just not sure how the EU could cherry pick what it decides to do without causing serious political damage,” Ottolenghi told

“I don’t think you’ll see the same extent of economic pressure but there are worrying signs. At the very least you might see targeted sanctions in the future,” he added.

Nevertheless, Ottolenghi does not believe Israel would ever face the level of EU sanctions that countries like Iran face due to the long economic, political and cultural linkages between Europe and Israel.

“The EU is bound to lose as well if they target Israel with sanctions. The EU is aware that they will lose critical economic ties [as well as] what little leverage it has over Israel politically if it wages economic war on (the Jewish state),” Ottolenghi said.

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