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The European Union and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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  1. Introduction.
    1. The European Union's support of Mahmud Abbas' candidacy.
    2. The EU and the peace process during the CFSP years.
  2. The European Union.
    1. Commitment to a two-state solution.
    2. The second pillar of the EU commitment.
    3. The use of financial aid.
    4. The establishment of bilateral relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
    5. The appointment of a special envoy to the region in November 1996.
  3. Signs that point at a growing EU involvement and even at an EU contribution towards positive outcomes.
    1. Special Envoy Moratinos's helpe in mending fences between Israeli and Palestinians.
    2. High Representative Javier Solana.
    3. The creation of the Quartet.
  4. Allegation that EU chose to adopt a low profile on the Middle East scene.
    1. Limited role at the beginning of the peace process in 1991.
    2. EU policy towards the conflict.
    3. Allegation that the Quartet has served to coordinate European positions.
    4. Highlights from the possible divergence of views.
  5. Explanations of the EU feebleness in the negotiations.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography.

With the recent election of Mahmud Abbas as chairman of the Palestinian Authority and Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza strip, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians appears to be at a crossroads, after years of severe strain on the so-called peace process. The two sides declared an end to all hostilities after a summit in February 2005, but the truce looks very fragile. The European Union has recently supported Mahmud Abbas' candidacy and been more active in the region over the past few years. However, European interest for the conflict is not new: under the European Political Cooperation, from 1970 to 1987, around ninety declarations relating to the Mediterranean were adopted, the majority of which on the Arab-Israeli conflict . Since the regime of the European Political Cooperation, European policy towards the conflict has been relatively stable. The 1980 landmark Venice declaration indeed set the tone for future European policies. It stated that the treatment of the Palestinian people was more than a question of dealing with refugees, and pronounced itself in favour of Palestinian self-determination . Member states have also been constant in their defence of a secure Israel accepted by its neighbours.

[...] Today, maybe this statement could be partly reversed, as the EU seems to be willing or is being forced to play a greater role in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but still lacks the coherence and the qualities to perform this role at its best. Thanks to its chequebook, the EU has asserted itself as a reliable interlocutor for the Palestinians and has been able to push for reforms in the Palestinian Authority, but it still has to face Israeli distrust. [...]

[...] Finally, the European Union appointed in November 1996 a special envoy to the region, Miguel Moratinos, a Spaniard, who was replaced in 2003 by Marc Otte from Belgium. The aim here was to have a diplomatic instrument to gain leverage in the region, as well as enhance talks between the two conflicting parts. The EU also relies on the action of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the Presidency of the Council and the Commissioner for external relations. [...]

[...] 283-295 Nathalie Tocci, The widening gap between rhetoric and reality in EU policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Centre for European Policy Studies, 2005) dead The Economist, December 21st 2002 grudge match?, The Economist, January 13th 2003 Ricardo Gomez, EU's Mediterranean policy?, in John Peterson, Helene Sjursen (eds.), A common foreign policy for Europe? (Routledge, 1998), p Ibid., p Ibid., p Christopher Hill, ?Closing the capabilities-expectations in John Peterson, Helene Sjursen (eds.), Op. cit., p Michael E. Smith, Europe's foreign and security policy, the institutionalization of cooperation (Cambridge University Press, 2004), p Council of the European Union, Presidency conclusions, Brussels European Council, 4/5 November 2004, 14292/04 Nathalie Tocci, The widening gap between rhetoric and reality in EU policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Centre for European Policy Studies, 2005), p Ibid., p Ibid. [...]

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