Europe takes stronger measures, albeit symbolic, to condemn Israeli policies

The New York Times reports: European nations, Israel’s largest trading partners and a historical bastion of support, are taking stronger measures to support Palestinian sovereignty and condemn what many see as aggressive, expansionist Israeli policies.

After years of mounting frustrations widely expressed but rarely acted on, politicians from Britain, France, Spain and Sweden have embraced symbolic steps to pressure Israel into a more accommodating stance toward the Palestinians.

Last week, European Union foreign ministers issued a statement that condemned the growing violence in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, Israeli expropriation of land near Bethlehem in the West Bank, and plans for new settlement construction, and urged Israel to change its policy on Gaza.

It ended with an unusual warning: “The future development of relations with both the Israeli and Palestinian partners will also depend on their engagement toward a lasting peace based on a two-state solution.”

Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli analyst and pollster, said, “Israel is losing Europe on three levels: Public opinion has shifted decidedly against Israel in most E.U. countries, the E.U. itself is increasingly thinking about and implementing policies against Israel’s presence in the West Bank, and, most recently, the waves of parliamentary discussions and votes in favor of recognizing Palestinian statehood.”

Statements and nonbinding votes in support of a Palestinian state do not seem likely to have an immediate, tangible impact on Israel’s core political or economic interests. Israel continues to enjoy good diplomatic relations with the major European powers.

Yet the actions reflect surging antipathy in Europe’s public discourse that threatens to drown out residual support for the Jewish state. Many leaders do not rule out sanctions on Israeli interests, especially in territories beyond the country’s 1967 boundaries, if they see no progress toward a two-state solution. [Continue reading…]

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