Sidelined Europe can still be of help

Published on 2 September 2010 at 14:29

On September 2, Israelis and Palestinians are meeting in Washington to have yet another go at the Middle East peace talks. But while the discussions are taking place under the aegis of the United States, the European Union remains absent from the event.

It is incomprehensible that “President Obama is keeping the EU away from the negotiations”, declares Yossi Beilin in La Vanguardia. The former Israeli justice minister, president of the Geneva Initiative and former negotiator in the 2001 talks held at Taba, recalls that the principal steps in the peace process over the last 20 years have been made in Europe: the Madrid conference of 1991, as well as the agreements signed in Oslo (1993), Paris (1995) and Geneva (2003).

Beilin also observes that Obama is “aware of Europe’s vast experience” and “knows that Europe will be called in over the three principal international problems” facing the establishment of a Palestinian state: finance, the question of who will participate in the multinational force for the protection of the Palestinian state, as well as the issue of who will help in the relocation of Palestinian refugees.

In light of these conditions, the former Israeli negotiator considers that Europe must not “beg” for a role in the renewed peace process, but must be “constantly implicated in the talks”. This is what worked so well during the Madrid conference, where the “Europeans played a decisive and key part” in advancing the negotiations. Beilin believes that it is now up to “the United States and the other implicated parties” to ask that Europe also assume “a decisive role” in the talks.

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