Lady Catherine Ashton, the EU’s top foreign policy official, has received a remarkable letter from the “European Eminent Persons Group on the Middle East Peace Process.” This self-selected collectivity might more accurately be called the “Formerly Eminent Persons Group,” inasmuch as the first word describing each one of its members is “Former,” but I suppose that these Formerly Eminent Persons do indeed also represent the views of Currently Eminent European Persons. The letter and its list of signatories are copied below.
The letter is important in one way: it shows that European official and elite thinking continue to blame Israel for everything related to the so-called Peace Process. To take one example, the letter states that:
- We have watched with increasing disappointment over the past five years the failure of the parties to start any kind of productive discussion, and of the international community under American and/or European leadership to promote such discussion. We have also noted with frustration and deep concern the deteriorating standards of humanitarian and human rights care of the population in the Occupied Territories.
The failure of the parties? Five years? Five years ago, in the spring of 2008, the parties were negotiating, apparently seriously, as part of what was then called “the Annapolis process.” That failed when Mahmoud Abbas refused an extremely generous offer from Israeli Prime Minister Olmert.
The Formerly Eminent Persons appear to have forgotten this, or far more likely to be seeking to avoid that truth.
Equally inaccurate is their line about the “failure of the parties,” a phrase which refuses to acknowledge that only the Palestinians have refused to negotiate in the last four years, not “the parties.”
In any event, the Formerly Eminent Persons soon arrive at their key insight, which is “that the Peace Process as conceived in the Oslo Agreements has nothing more to offer.”
What does this mean, actually? Turns out, rather unsurprisingly, that it means we must all get tougher now with Israel. We must all insist that Israel’s borders are the 1967 lines and everything beyond that is illegal and illegitimate. Everything— including, therefore, such things as Israel’s control of the Western Wall and the Jewish sector of the Old City of Jerusalem, from which Israelis had been kept away when Jordan controlled the Old City. The Formerly Eminent Persons wish above all to erase the letter to Prime Minister Sharon from President Bush in 2004, where he called the major settlement blocks “new realities on the ground” that all efforts at negotiation had acknowledged Israel would keep.
There is more in the letter that is wrong, such as the notion that human rights conditions in the West Bank are deteriorating due to the Israeli occupation. One can make a good argument that they are deteriorating, in Gaza due to Hamas and in the West Bank due to the growing pressure from the PA against journalists. The letter does not appear to consider the possibility that any problem in Palestinian areas might possibly be …read more