Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Who is The Century Foundation?

And why do they support the Geneva Accord? Read this. It's pretty scary stuff:

Israel and the EU: A Path to Peace Printer-Friendly
Michael Shtender-Auerbach, The Century Foundation, 11/3/2005

Israel's inner cabinet voted on November 1st to request the European Union to monitor and secure the Egyptian-Gaza border. Sylvan Shalom, Israel's foreign minister, told Haaretz, "Our objective is for the Europeans to have enforcement capabilities in the field, and not just a symbolic presence".

That Israel would rely on the Europeans to help guarantee any dimension of a developing Israeli-Palestinian peace is a significant shift. It certainly presents a major foreign policy challenge for the EU, which has offered itself in many roles but not as an enforcer. But it also shows Israel's underlying desire for a stronger relationship with Europe.

The new reality is growing interest in the possibility for Israel to become a full member of the EU. Historical, cultural, and most importantly economic elements continue to bind Israel to Europe, and the EU relationship can be critical for the Israeli economy in coming decades. As a result, Europe now has an unprecedented opportunity to step up to the plate, restart the stalled "road map," which is set to expire in December, and act as a peace broker to clear the biggest obstacle to Israel's ascension into the Union-Israelis' unresolved conflict with Palestinians.

As far back as 1946, David Ben-Gurion imagined Israel as a part of the British Commonwealth, with a status similar to that of New Zealand and Australia. Politicians as diverse as Simon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu and Sylvan Shalom have all supported the idea of Israeli membership in the EU. Clearly, interest exists in Israel. But while both Spain and Italy have expressed interest, the process has never been taken seriously by the majority of European nations or their citizens.

This latest request of Israel for the EU to play a major role in Israel's security should come as a welcome recognition in Brussels. It hands this 25-nation confederacy an unprecedented opportunity to play a decisive role in brokering peace between Israel and Palestine. The Israeli leadership has demonstrated time and again that it fears a univocal European policy that could hold both sides' feet to the fire of reform. This fear is a potent symbol of the new power that can be wielded by Europe in the interests of international peace.

For Israel, EU membership would not only provide a strong security guarantee, but would afford them all of the economic advantages of the vast EU market. For the security establishment, it could possibly mean even opening the door to membership in NATO. The EU and Israel already have a formal Cooperation Agreement—ratified five years ago by the Knesset, Israel's parliament— and this relationship has influenced economic, political and cultural exchanges. As recently as last week, the Council of European Ministers voted in favor of allowing Israel to join the Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin zone, which will have enormous financial benefits for the Israeli textile industry.

The European consensus on what Israelis and Palestinians need to do for peace is well known. To gain entry into the EU, Israel would need to negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestinians largely consistent with Security Council resolution 242-almost certainly similar to the terms proposed in the Geneva Initiative—and to settle its border dispute with Syria in the Golan.

In addition, Israel will, like every other candidate member, have to comply with the majority of the Copenhagen criteria for the EU member candidates. The common legal basis exists: Israeli governing bodies, legal and economic systems are all modeled on the British system. As an EU member at peace with its neighbors, Israel would bolster Europe's status as a world leader and international power broker. This would also provide Israelis with the security and membership in a community of nations that accept and protect them and to give the Palestinians their best hope for statehood in the long battle for sovereignty.

Israel should do all it can to reach toward the stability and economic vitality promised by closer ties with Europe. The EU should seize this opportunity to step fully into its new role as a major power and use that influence to facilitate the long awaited final status resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Michael Shtender-Auerbach is a public affairs officer at The Century Foundation.

Israel and the EU: A Path to Peace


Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

I don't know... Something just really bothers me about being part of the EU. You know? Like an itch you can't reach. With Europe's light and pathetic stance on terrorism, having them as some sort of power broker in our affairs just rubs me the wrong way. I don't know...

1:11 AM  
Blogger Barry Freedman said...

Hello OC,

It's worse than that. I hope you understand that I posted this as kind of a warning -- an eye opener. For the reasons you mention and many more it would be a horror -- as we have had ample preview of.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

I know we do a lot of trade with Europe, and economically, it would seem to make sense. But, we've been doing fine without being part of the EU. I know that there are many more reasons. How long do we both have to write, right? I just hope it doesn't happen.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Barry Freedman said...


In order for a people to defend themselves they need to be sovereign. Without that basic ability no nation can survive. Turning the security of the Jewish people over to Europe 60 years after the holocaust when Europe supports the cause whole heartedly of Hitler's heirs is either evil or insane -- justifying it based on "economic" reasons doesn't change that. SECURITY is a nation's first responsitbility to its people -- EVERYTHING else takes a back seat. For that a nation MUST BE SOVEREIGN.

7:22 PM  

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