Thursday, July 18, 2013

Europe is Wrong, Again

by MK Ofir Akunis

The European Union is wrong. Taking a unilateral stand will not encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiation table. On the contrary -- automatically siding with the Palestinian Authority's positions will only drive them away. Why engage in negotiations with Israel when their demands are met in advance?

It seems that past experiences have failed to leave their mark. Europe has supported the various erroneous notions previously employed here -- the Oslo Accords, the disengagement from Gaza Strip, former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert's proposals to return to the 1967 borders and divide Jerusalem -- have all failed. Not because of the Europeans, not because of Israel and not because of the United States. They failed over the Palestinians' persistent refusal to strike peace. 

The Europeans were wrong before. They are wrong again.

The EU's decision to ban the funding of settlement-related projects is not surprising. It stems from a much bigger, fundamental disagreement. The EU views the Gilo, Ramat Eshkol, Ramot and French Hill neighborhoods in Jerusalem as "occupied territories" but we see them as parts of a united Jerusalem. While they believe that Judea and Samaria are "under occupation," we see them as the cradle of the Jewish people's homeland; to say nothing of the fact that enacting Israeli law in the Golan Heights 32 years ago has now saved us from witnessing the tragedy of the Syrian civil war unfold on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. 

When Europe understands that the conflict has little to do with the 1967 borders and everything to do with our very existence here, they too will abandon their unfortunate tendency to interfere where it is unnecessary and even harmful. 

MK Ofir Akunis is a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office.


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