The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

EU summit on Middle East conflict

This gets little attention at the moment, as the dispute with Iran over its nuclear program and international assistance to Lebanon dominate international diplomacy headlines, but I was disappointed by the outcome of the summit of the EU foreign ministers.

It was hosted in Finland (which is currently performing EU presidency), and the Finish foreign minister made an interesting remark before the summit, indicating a softening of the EU’s stance on Hamas.

Disappointingly, he draw back soon afterwards, saying that Hamas would have to accept preconditions before any talks, including the recognition of Israel. While there was certainly debate on integrating Hamas, this shows that there is no majority amongst EU members.

But if the EU wants to launch an initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the shadow of the other regional issues, it needs to do find a more pro-active stance on Hamas, then just replacing the Palestinian authority by paying cash sums to the population.

However, the EU appears to increasingly see itself as the main player in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as several European nations are preparing to send strong troop contingents to Southern Lebanon, and as the Bush administration is busy with November elections in Iraq and elections to Congress.