With the European elections results coming in overnight there are some surprises, but many predictable outcomes. The elections have ramifications for Europe’s position in the world because the more Europe is unstable and fractured by infighting, the less it will play a role in world affairs. In addition, the more extreme parties in Europe will fuel the continued cycle of the instability, likely exacerbating the inability of the continent to act as a whole on policies, leaving such issues as immigration and security in the hands of states that have deepening societal divisions.
Here is a quick glance at what we know so far on Monday.
Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party remakes map of UK politics
The pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who appeared to leave politics after the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, led a new party to a surprising thirty percent of the votes in the UK European elections. These elections weren’t supposed to even happen because the UK was already supposed to have left the EU. His message was that his party wants to take responsibility for leaving the EU and that if the ruling Conservatives don’t act then they will be crushed at the next polls.
The Conservatives already were humiliated in the EU elections in the UK, receiving less than ten percent. The Liberal Democrats performed well with almost 20 percent of the vote while Labour slipped to 14% and the Greens grabbed 11%. It’s clear that a coalition of Labour, the Greens and Liberal-Democrats, with the Scottish Nationalists, likely could run the UK after the next general election. For now it is the EU that will be getting Farage back.
Germany goes Green
In Germany the centrist and historically dominant Christian Democrats and Social Democrats lost votes to the Green Party. The Greens took twenty percent of the vote while the right wing AfD took ten percent. For Germany, any notion that right wing parties might do well always conjures up comparisons to the past. But the reality is that there is no massive swing to the far-right in Germany, yet. Instead the major parties are simply being weakened. The smaller leftist Die Linke party, for instance, took five percent of the vote. Liberals took another five percent.
Le Pen wins, again, in France
Marine Le Pen’s National Rally defeated President Emmanuel Macron’s party by a whopping 23.3% to 22.4%. This is supposed to make us all gasp that Lep Pen has “won,” but she hasn’t really won anything. Macron has been beset by massive protests by the “yellow vests” and French politics is fickle. They tend to dislike their presidents. The Le Pen phenomenon has continued for twenty years in France. In 2002 Jean-Marie Le Pen received 17% in the presidential election. Marine Le Pen got 33% of the vote in 2017. So her 23% isn’t a win, it’s a loss for her party. It just looks good in comparison to Macron’s failure. The real winners, in a sense, in France were the Greens with 13% of the vote, an increase from last time. See a pattern here with the Greens doing better in Germany and the UK?
Italy’s one third
A third of Italians voted for the Lega, Matteo Salvini’s party that is popular in the north of the country. Another 23% voted for the social democrats while only 16% chose the Five Star Movement, a new party that had got around a third of the vote in the 2018 elections. It appears that Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia got 7% of the vote. One supposes that means former Italian leader Mr. Berlusconi is back in politics, something he has been trying to achieve for the last few years. The end result in Italy is that although the right wing is doing well, they are still divided and kept at a third of the votes.
Sweden’s moderate politics
Not so long ago Sweden thought that it might be swept up in populist politics with the rise of the Sweden Democrats. The wave appears to be cresting as they now have 15% of the vote, a continual rise from 2018 when they had 13% in national elections. But the rest of Sweden’s politics is predictable. The Moderate party got 16% and the center-left took 23%. The Greens now have 11%.
Flemish Nationalism rises in Belgium
The new Flemish Alliance, which had 20% in the 2014 vote got only 13% in the EU elections, but its more far-right Vlaams Belang got 11%. On the left the socialists took 10%, the French speaking Greens 7% and the Flemish speaking Greens another 7%. Flemish socialists also got 6%. All in all the politics in Belgium is so divided that it’s hard to make any real conclusions, besides the obvious fact that the Flemish right is rising. Previously the the Vlaams Belang had only around 3% of the vote. But a previous incarnation of the far-right, the Vlams Blok, once got 12% of the vote in 1994 and 15% in 1999. So the new far-right Flemish speakers have merely gone back to what they used to have.
Puigdemont gets a seat in Spain
The Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont secured a seat in Spain while another group supporting local regions, Ahora Republicas, got 5% of the votes. Its leader Oriol Junqueras has been in imprisoned on charges of “rebellion.” The populist Vox party got 6% of the vote in Spain. Overall Spain’s politics are largely dominated by the normal parties with the socialists getting 32% and the center-right People’s Party getting 20%. Another center-right Citizens party got 12%.
Viktor Orban continued his dominance of Hungarian politics, taking more than 50% of the vote in the EU elections there. He has been the leader of the Fidesz party for years and a dominant figure since the late 1990s. It is the only European country where a party got over 50% of the vote.
Poland goes for two big parties
Poland looks the way western European countries used to look in its voting pattern for two large parties. Forty-three percent chose a right wing conservative party called Law and Justice, while 38% chose the European Coalition. In general Poland’s politics have not fractured like many other countries in Europe.
Austria’s Greens and Freedom Party
Austrian politics also looks relatively normal in the EU election, with the People’s Party taking 34% and the Social Democrats taking 23%. The Freedom Party, with is more right wing, has 17% and the Greens 14%. This looks like the 2017 Austrian legislative elections in which the Freedom Party got 20% and the Greens got 12%. Basically there is no news from Vienna.
Romania’s socialists lose out
In Romania the center-right National Liberal Party got 27% of the vote while the Social Democrats got only 24%. A centrist party called USR-PLUS got another 18%. The Social Democrats had 45% of the vote as recently as 2016. They now have been handed a major defeat. Romania matters to the Eu because it has 32 seats in the 751 parliament, making it one of the larger members in the 28 member block. Germany, Italy, France and the UK are the largest, followed by France and Poland.
Ireland also goes Green a bit
Ireland largely voted for the parties one would expect, Fine Gail got 29% and Fianna Fail got 15%. This represented a defeat for Fianna Fail while the Green Party grabbed 15%, much more than in the 2016 elections in Ireland. Sinn Fein got 13%, which is exactly what it got in 2016. No big surprises here, except for the Greens.
Netherlands says goodbye to populism
The Party for Freedom (PVV) once had 16% and 13% in EU elections in 2009 and 2014. But it slipped to a dismal failure in the 2019 elections, illustrating the far-right nationalism may not be on the march. It came in second with 13% of the vote in the 2017 general elections in Holland. But the Dutch decided on more traditional politics this election, sending Labour to the EU with 19% of the vote and the People’s Party with 14%. The Greens got 10% of the vote. The surprising failure of the populists and nationalists in Netherlands may point to a turning point in that country and others. After almost two decades, since the days of the Pim Fortuyn List, politics in the low country seem a bit more traditional.
The article was published on The JPost
THE HAGUE—The Dutch Parliament has voted a motion calling on the government to cut 7% of Dutch funding to the Palestinian Authority.
MP Kees van der Staaij, from the Christian Reformed Political Party (SGP), had submitted a proposal to stop the financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority (PA), as long as it continues to reward terrorists.
The cut of 7% was chosen after monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) provided the parliament with documentation showing that the PA spends 7% of its budget on payments to terrorists in jail and to families of killed terrorists (“Martyrs”).
The Dutch motion is binding unless the PA stops these payments.
Van der Staaij came to this motion after a conversation with terror survivor Kay Wilson. She pointed out that the Palestinian Authority indoctrinates Palestinians with hatred and that terrorists are rewarded by the PA for their crimes.
In July 2014 following a previous presentation by PMW to Dutch MPs, the parliament voted 148-2 to cut funding to the PA if it continued paying salaries to terrorists. However, the cut never happened because the PA deceived Western donors by closing the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs and claiming the payments were made by the PLO from non-donor money.
When PMW exposed the PA fraud, in 2016, the international community was outraged. This led to the US Taylor Force Act, in March 2018, which conditions most of US aid to the PA, and to the Australian government’s decision, in July 2018, to cut all its direct aid to the PA. This is the first time since PMW exposed the PA’s deception in 2016 that a European country has legislated to cut funding because of the PA’s payments to terrorists.
The article was published on EJP
As the world marks 17 years since the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the time has come for Western governments to join in “the strong and clear effort by the Trump administration against the terrorist regime in Tehran,”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu took European leaders to task for “appeasing Iran,” something he said “helps the relentless assault on the values and security of free societies.”
Netanyahu again noted the irony that during the same week in June when an Iranian terrorist cell tried to carry out an attack against an Iranian opposition group in Paris – an attack that Israeli intelligence helped to thwart – European leaders were trying to “appease” Iran and looking for ways to reconcile with it, and soften the fallout from the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.
Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks, has “passed the torch” of radical Sunni terrorism on to Islamic State, while the radical Shia variety of terrorism is being led by Iran, the premier said.
It is doing so to a certain degree against Islamic State, but it is not doing so against Iran – the opposite is the case,” he said.
Netanyahu also used the start of the weekly cabinet meeting to once again praise the Trump administration for its decision on Monday to close the PLO office in Washington.
Netanyahu called this the “correct decision,” saying that at a time when the Palestinians refuse to negotiate with Israel and are attacking it with false claims in international forums, Israel “very much appreciates” American actions designed to make clear to the Palestinians that their tactics not only fail to promote peace, “but are also certainly not making things better for the Palestinians.”
The article was published on The JPost
Spain, Finland, Russia: in the space of a few days, Europe is reminded, yet again, that terrorism – like the virus it is – kills brutally, indiscriminately and, critically, transnationally.
On Thursday, August 17, a van rammed into crowds of people in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas boulevard – a hub of tourism and social life. Thirteen were killed with dozens more injured. The atrocity was followed by a knife attack the very next day in the Finnish city of Turku, which killed two people and injured eight. Another knife attack, this time in the Siberian city of Surgut on the 19 August, injured eight. Islamic State has claimed responsibly for all the attacks.
In a democratic society based on liberal values it is impossible to stop every madman that wishes us harm. Sadiq Khan was criticised but right when he said that the threat of terror attacks was now ‘part and parcel of living in a big city’. If you want total security move to North Korea.
Recent terror ‘successes’, however, are more to do with state failings than terrorist brilliance. In too many countries counter-terrorism measures are still insufficient. And the reason is simple: We are fighting 21st century terrorism with 20th century methods. Nonetheless, more can, and must, be done. One country, above all, has the method and the solution: Israel.
This little country of eight million has been dealing with terrorism since the state’s inception 70 years ago. From airline hijackings to suicide bombers to stabbings, shooting and vehicle attacks, Israel has seen them all – and has adapted accordingly.
Pini Schiff, Israeli Former Head of Security at the Israel Airports Authority believes the most pressing change that Europe needs to make is at the intelligence level. ‘Both the U.K. and France, for example, have really professional agencies,’ he says, ‘but that is not enough. There is not enough communication between intelligence agencies across Europe, like there is between all branches of the Israeli security services. It needs to be a ‘one nation’ intelligence community.’
He’s right. The horrific attacks in Brussels in March 2016 that killed 32 people were, in part, enabled by the absurdity of a city with a population of 1.5 million having six police forces, which didn’t communicate properly with one another. This led to major intelligence failings. While an extreme case, this sort of senseless de-centralisation is what allowed the attackers to slip through and it is present (to far lesser degrees) across Europe
European countries must now come together as one to combat terror – be it far right or jihadist. Both Interpol and Europol are European-wide police agencies focusing on a wide array of criminal activities. In January 2016, the European Counterterrorism Centre was set up as an organ of Europol. It is clearly failing. It must become autonomous and receive increased funding.
Intelligence is the first level at which terror must be fought. But the war is now also on the streets. Urban centres are the new battleground. As an Israeli counter-terrorism official (who cannot be named due to the sensitivity of his work) told me: ‘simple things, like placing bollards and barriers at strategic points in major centres can almost eliminate the possibility of vehicle rammings’.
But the most important changes must come at the level of education. A principle problem with terror is that it forces us into ever more intrusive legislation. An educated public can relieve the burden. As the counterterrorism official explains: ‘In the 21st century we have witnessed the new phenomenon of the lone wolf: Someone not part of a cell, someone who doesn’t buy guns or explosives and is therefore much harder to track.’
If someone can now be radicalised just by going on the internet, what can be done? Well, for a start, in Israel, the police have a dedicated Facebook page where people can report terrorist content they find posted on social media, and, critically, all of which is checked. It has saved lives.
Combating the threat of the lone wolf – and avoiding more draconian anti-terror legislation – comes with greater public awareness.
‘If, for example, you see your neighbour going out at 3am every night or see him or her buying a lot of knives, or carrying a suspicious backpack. Look at Anders Breivik,’ the counterterrorism official concludes, ‘all the red flags were there before and no one did anything. People need the courage to speak up. Every tip can lead the authorities to something much bigger.’
The Op-Ed was written by David Patrikarakos and was published in blogs.spectator.co.uk
Jerusalem continues outreach to subregional groups.
Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Budapest next month for a meeting with the heads of the four central European countries that make up the Visegrad group, as Israel continues to try to build relationships with various regional subgroupings around the world.
Netanyahu is expected to meet with the heads of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia at the summit on July 18-19.
This visit will come less than a month after Netanyahu met with the heads of Cyprus and Greece in Thessaloniki, with Israel having developed a close alliance with those EU countries. And in early May, Netanyahu went to Liberia to take part in a summit there of 15 West African states.
With Jerusalem’s relationship with the European Union often strained because of the Palestinian issue and the desire of some key voices in Brussels to link development of ties to that issue, Israel has adopted a policy of forging close ties with specific countries or groupings of countries inside the EU who are more sympathetic to Israel’s position and are also interested in having close bilateral relations.
For instance, the energy issue has bound Israel much closer to Cyprus and Greece, and the Visegrad countries find themselves interested in forging closer ties because of economic, security and energy issues as well. These countries forums, as well as inside discussions in EU institutions in Brussels.
The same dynamic is at work in Africa. With Israel having been boxed out of any formal status in the African Union, largely because of the opposition of South Africa and the Arab North African countries, it has made inroads instead with African organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States, or even ad hoc groupings, as Netanyahu did last July when he met the leaders of seven East African countries.
Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest will be the first visit there of an Israeli prime minister since the country emerged from Communist rule in 1989. He is expected to hold both bilateral talks with the leaders of each of the Visegrad countries, as well as a joint meeting as well.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto was in Israel in May. The V4, as the Visegrad group is known, is a political and cultural alliance aimed at facilitating the integration of the four countries in European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
Szijjarto told the Hungarian news agency MTI when he was in Israel that the three most important aspects of economic cooperation with Israel were in the areas of automobile navigation, water management and energy.
“The automobile industry provides the backbone of the Hungarian economy, and the future development of this sector of industry fundamentally determines the growth of the Hungarian economy,” Szijjarto highlighted.
Close cooperation with Israel could make Hungary the European center for the testing and development of self-driven vehicles, he said.
“Based on the buying up of certain companies, it has become clear that Israel will be one of the global centers for the development of [autonomous vehicles]. Israeli company NavNGo is one of the Hungarian government’s strategic partners, employs hundreds of GPS software engineers in Hungary and is one of the world leaders within the field of developing such software, and plays an extremely important role in making self-driven cars a reality,” he said.
Audi, Opel and Suzuki exports make up a huge percentage of the country’s overall exports, and Europe’s largest engine manufacturing plant is located in the country.
With regard to energy, the foreign minister – referring to Israel’s offshore operations – said: “Israel’s natural gas deposits could play a significant role in the energy security of Europe and Hungary. If extraction begins according to schedule in 2019-20, Hungary will have an interest in purchasing gas [either via a pipeline or in the form of liquefied natural gas] in view of the fact that we would like to purchase natural gas form as many sources as possible.”
The article was published on The Jerusalem Post
ISRAEL. include. invest. involve
3 ‘i’s to counter the b.d. and s
Europe Israel Public Affairs, in partnership with the Israeli Mission to the European Union organizes in the European Parliament, Bruxelles its first public conference for pro-Israel activists across the 28 member states of the European Union, on 23rd of January 2017, 16:00-19:00.
Please join us in the European House for a debate on why inclusion, investment and involvement are better than boycott, divestment and sanctions as a means for further development of the EU-Israeli ties.
Come and share with us why you like Israel!
For allowing us to facilitate your access to the European Parliament, please fill in your details HERE:
Unprecedented clubs and hoops victory gives girls’ squad momentum for August Olympics in Rio
The five-member, all-girl squad took gold in the clubs and hoops category.
The five-member, all-girl squad took gold in the clubs and hoops category.
The team also won a silver medal for its ribbon routine, and, two days ago, captured the bronze in the all-around competition.
The team from Belarus topped the Israeli squad in ribbons, with 18.516 points to 18.4.
The favorite, Russia, disappointed with many mistakes, earning a score of just 17.933, which kept it off the podium.
After Sunday’s success of the Israeli rhythmic gymnasts at the European Championships — which took place in the Israeli city of Holon — the team will be heading in August to the Olympics in Rio, where it will compete in the all-around.
The Article was published on the 19th of June 2016 on The Times of Israel
The state comptroller’s report on Israeli government efforts to tackle BDS does not make for pleasant, much less reassuring reading. It speaks of failures, inter departmental fighting and a lack of a clear plan to deal with the scourge that is the BDS movement. In short, the report claims that the campaign is flailing, largely ineffective and, as presently constituted, will more than likely fail.
And it leaves me, and countless other pro-Israel advocates deeply frustrated. But there’s something we can all do with this frustration. We can take matters into our hands.
I was at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday. It was a packed hall, full of inspirational people who want to help, who want to do something. But as panel speaker Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein rightly noted, its not enough. We can’t do it on our own, we need help and support from Christians, Atheists, in fact from whoever we can find that are committed to the cause.
I’m talking about building an army. No, not that kind of an army. I’m talking about an army that fights with it’s mind, that fights with its collective intellectual muscle to exert unstoppable pressure on governments in Europe who might be swayed into anti-BDS initiatives.
One of my media adviser colleagues, based in our Paris Office, went to meet a French Parliamentarian who was planning to vote in favour of ‘La Republique’ recognising a Palestinian state. In his office, the parliamentarian showed my colleague one of the nearly 400 identical letters from the public calling on him to recognise a state. The parliamentarian added, very matter of factly, that he is elected to serve the needs of his constituents, and if he receives such a volume of mail on such an issue, he felt compelled to act.
So there you have it. It’s not rocket science. Politicians, like everyone else respond to pressure. So where was our pressure? Where were our 400 letters of rebuke?
That’s where an army comes in. And I’m 100% convinced that a cross-European army would defeat BDS here.
So we are building one. In two of the organisations that I direct, Europe Israel Press Association, and Europe Israel Public Affairs, we undertook two test cases of online advertising. We increased interest in our work by as much as 3108%. So it’s clear that there is interest. But interest is not enough. It’s action that counts.
In the coming weeks we intend to campaign online, advertise and visit Shuls, churches, Universities, think tanks, you name it, to recruit active participants in this army.
We will be working with other Jewish groups, Christian organisations and will be taking a leaf out of AIPAC’s book on how to mobilize and defeat anti-Israel activities and initiatives wherever, and whenever they arise.
We will mobilize whenever there’s a pro-BDS media article, whenever a politician or student leader speaks up in favour of a BDS campaign.
We are in a war ladies and gentlemen. And contrary to current military thinking, this war can only be won with boots on the ground.
You see, as our online advert noted, Israel’s greatest asset isn’t its army, or its public representatives. It’s you, the public reading this, you have the power by hitting the dislike button, by leaving a comment, by writing a letter, by picking up the phone. Combined, we are powerful force for pro-Israel advocacy and defeating the BDS movement.
It’s not a lost cause and never has been. Together we can do this.
So I’m calling you to arms. Join the EIPA army today. You can do so HERE, on our website.
The decision to label settlement goods causes friction within the bloc and strains ties with a staunch ally.
Israel’s U.S. ambassador sent gift boxes for the 2015 holiday season containing wine, olive oil, body cream, and halva — and a defiant note calling out the European Union.
The products came from what the international community considers to be occupied territories, and Ambassador Ron Dermer was determined to make a blunt point about the EU’s recent move to instruct member countries on how to label goods produced in areas outside Israel’s 1967 borders.
“The Jewish state is singled out and held to a different standard than other countries,” Dermer wrote. “Of the over 200 unresolved territorial disputes around the world, Europe decided that only these Jewish-made products deserved to be labeled.”
“In response to this effort to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights,” he added.
Dermer’s reaction reflected the anger that many in Israel felt after the EU announced that the wording such as “product of West Bank (Israeli settlement)” should be displayed on cosmetics and food products, similar to the guidelines already in place inBelgium, the U.K and Denmark.
More than one month after the guidelines were issued, the fallout continues. The decision has dogged European officials, caused friction within the European Union and strained the bloc’s ties with Israel.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini faced combined pressure, built up over several years, from the European Parliament and EU countries critical of Israel’s settlement activity to act. But now, as she tries to reassert her role as a trusted broker in the Middle East peace process, the labeling decision has made her task difficult.
“For Mogherini it’s never been the right time,” said Hugh Lovatt, the Israel/Palestine project coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “She ran out of runway and had to issue it before the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on November 16, because member states said ‘we don’t want to have to bring this up again.’”
In the immediate aftermath, Israeli canceled some meetings, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The labeling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories; Europe should be ashamed of itself.”
Then, at the end of November, Israel announced that it was suspending diplomatic contact with EU officials involved in peace efforts with the Palestinians.
“There have been a lot of gesticulations from the Israelis,” said one European diplomat, adding that particular ire had been directed at France, Belgium, Malta, Ireland and Sweden — countries traditionally seen as being more likely to criticize Israel.
But the diplomat said the EU is talking to Israel as before, pointing out that Fernando Gentilini, the EU’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, did not raise the issue on his recent visit to Israel.
The Israeli reaction “is an intimidation technique that the Israelis have tried and tested many times,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “For us, there’s no fundamental questioning of our relationship with Israel.”
Hostage to politics
Mogherini had a model for how not to proceed, in the previous attempt, by her predecessor, Catherine Ashton.
“It was handled badly,” a source close to this year’s deliberations said of the labeling guidelines proposed in 2013. “The Americans never heard about the proposal [before it was issued] and neither did the Israelis.”
Ashton’s push came at a time when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to revitalize the peace process. Israel complained and at Kerry’s request the EU shelved the proposal, which was hardly heard from again during the rest of Ashton’s tenure.
This time around, the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians were informed before the guidelines were released. “The work of quiet diplomacy,” the source said.
Another element of the strategy employed by Mogherini’s team was to attempt to use both political and technical arguments. Unlike the Ashton move, which was handled exclusively through the European External Action Service, this time more prominence was given to the role played by the Commission’s trade directorate.
“The EEAS chose to put communication on this matter in the hands of DG Trade, and say it was purely technical,” an EU official said. “As a way to unload the burden.”
In issuing the guidelines, an EU official argued the Commission was merely responding to member states’ request for “full and efficient implementation of existing legislation when it comes to the [Israeli] settlements.”
“This notice does not create any new legislative rules,” a Commission spokesperson said. “While it reflects the Commission’s understanding of the relevant EU legislation, enforcement remains the primary responsibility of member states.”
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskisreiterated that the labeling instructions were just “a technical issue, not a political stance.”
The problem, according to Lovatt, was that by delaying publication out of fear of stoking tensions in the region, “Ashton and then Mogherini held the labeling guidelines hostage to political considerations — so they’ve lost the legal, technical argument which they’ve had in previous situations.”
He compared the labeling fuss to the way Brussels brought in its rules for financing going to entities located beyond Israel’s 1967 borders.
“There was no attempt to intervene politically to delay the EU’s funding guidlines in July 2013,” Lovatt said. “In that case the EU stuck to its guns without having to sacrifice political capital.”
Instead, on labeling, “it has taken three years and two ministerial letters to write three pages,” one exasperated diplomat pointed out. “We organized the Crimea sanctions against Russia in three weeks! It’s unfortunate, if this had gone ahead three years ago we would have avoided the hysterics.”
This article was written by Vince Chadwick and Maia De La Baume and was published on the Politico website on 04/01/2016
It’s an odd sensation when friends in Israel are calling you up or sending you messages to stay safe. In Brussels.
The lockdown here – that has only been lifted this morning after the terror alert was downgraded – was the first real taste for many in the European capital of what the threat from Islamist terrorist looks and feels like. It was something so alien and so uncomfortable that many had no clue what to do.
Watching all this on the evening news from their living rooms in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, many an Israeli would be forgiven for allowing themselves a wry smile and a “welcome to our world” remark. Let us not forget that ordinary Israelis are still facing a wave of stabbings and car rammings that continue to kill, maim and injure. This week saw 2 more dead and 11 wounded, including a 12 year girl that was stabbed.
Instead, Israel, despite the recent raw deal it got from the EU on labelling, and despite an overarching feeling that Europe doesn’t really care, was magnanimous and generous in its response to the terror attacks in Paris and the dark shadow of a real threat to life in Brussels.
Quietly, surely and delicately Israel has been sharing its expertise in dealing with terror with its counterparts in Europe. Last week many Israeli anti-terror experts were in Brussels, all below the publicity radar, offering briefings, solutions and best practice.
The highest profile of these visits this week came from IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who held a number of private meetings with Belgian security officials.
The purpose of the trip was to establish unprecedented security ties involving Belgium and Israel. During his one-day trip to Europe, the IDF chief of staff also held meetings with high ranking military officials from the United States. Earlier this week, it was also revealed that Germany had received from Israeli intel services
key intelligence regarding an imminent terror attack against a packed soccer stadium.
This led lead German authorities to cancel a scheduled friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands at Hanover Stadium on November 17.
It is a sad state of affairs that terror has brought its blood soaked hands to Europe. To many experts it wasn’t a case of if but when. Well, there can be no doubt that it is here now, and European capitals, particularly Paris and Brussels are left undeniably altered and shaken.
It’s a tough lesson for Europe to learn, where old certainties and comfortable clichés such as “why can’t we all just get along?” no longer apply.
This harsh new reality does however offer an unprecedented opportunity for rapprochement between the EU and Israel after a testy few months.
We do, after all, now share a very simple and stark reality: That there are those who seek our destruction, by any means necessary. That there are those who abhor democracy, freedom of speech and the liberties that we take for granted.
I sincerely hope that the tragic episodes in Paris and Brussels will wake Europe from a slumber that somehow separates and compartmentalises the Israel-Palestinian conflict into something “other”, something that is unique.
It is anything but. Settlements and the temple mount are simply the latest smokescreen in a long running attack on the only democracy in the middle east. This is instead a sadly on-going struggle against fundamentalism that sees no place, no future and no role for any non-arab in the region, just as it views any non-adherent to this brutal and murderous narrative as the enemy.
Israel has shown this week that it can swallow its bruised pride on EU labelling, rise above it and take a decisive and leading role in showing EU states how to deal with and fight terror. It is showing people how you can live and prosper, in spite of terrorism.
Brussels is renowned as a foggy place. But its is starting to feel like people are now slowly beginning to see what is at stake.
The Op-Ed was written by Alex Benjamin, EIPA executive director and was published in The Times of Israel
Mahmoud Abbas is such a master of stretching the elasticity of the truth, such a perverter of language, that in ordinary circumstances you couldn’t help but admire his downright deluded chutzpah. This week he reminded us here at Europe Israel Public Affairs of Comical Ali, the information minister during the Iraq War, with his lies and deluded pronouncements.
But this is not something that we can laugh at. He is the Leader of Israel’s supposed partner in peace. He is supposed to represent Palestinian interests. In short he is supposed to be a statesman.
Instead, he continues to incite violence and terror, firstly by feeding Palestinian paranoia about Israel’s desire to change the status of the Temple Mount (something that is patently and unequivocally untrue, as Israel has repeatedly stated), secondly by lying about Israel murdering a teenager (said teenager is in fact being treated well in an Israeli hospital despite his attempt to murder in a stabbing attack), thirdly by his downright refusal to accept responsibility for starting the fire of violence and terror, and lastly, and perhaps most sinisterly, his continuing and frankly shameful refusal to condemn the attacks and call on them to end.
People on both sides are dying because of it.
This week we were also treated to another word bending extravaganza worthy of the world finest linguistic contortionist. These acts against innocent Israelis (including the stabbing of a 70 year grandmother at a bus stop) are deemed as “popular resistance”.
Now, when most people think of “popular resistance” they think of a strike, a picket line, a demonstration, or something like social protests. For Mahmoud Abbas scores of teenagers roaming the streets, shops, bus stops, trams, synagogues, restaurants, bars, schools, wherever to stab Jews (any Jew will do) is not attempted or wilful murder. Its not terrorism. Its popular resistance.
A Palestinian man ran into a group of orthodox Jews at a tram stop this week, got out and used a hatchet to hack at the injured. In this distorted Palestinian world, the assailant told his attorney (remember that Israel affords the basic human right to legal representation despite the lack of respect of human right shown by those committing such abhorrent crimes), that this was in fact…wait for it…A car accident. He had clearly learned a trick or two from his master in Ramallah.
What are European Leaders saying about this? They are urging both sides to restrain. Both sides. Is the lunacy of Abbas’s language so contagious that it has spread to the EU Institutions? Has political correctness got so bad and so twisted that the attempted murderer and the 70 year old are treated the same? As if she prompted the attack? Mr Abbas must be laughing to himself at such a false premise.
13 MEPs, all friends or members of EIPAs’ political advisory board, wrote last week to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, urging them to send a strong and unambiguous message to Mahmoud Abbas that incitement to hatred and silence in the face of murder would not be tolerated by the Brussels institutions.
As of today, still nothing. Not even a courteous acknowledgement of the letter by democratically elected parliamentarians from across the political divide and across the continent. Mr Schulz delivered his state of the Union speech to the European Summit yesterday here in Brussels and didn’t even mention events in Jerusalem.
Despite all of this, despite a bewildered, afraid and traumatised Israeli public, may of whom are calling for a tough response, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again, and only yesterday, extended his invitation for peace talks with Mr Abbas, at a place of his choosing and without pre-conditions.
Like him or loathe him. Mr Netanyahu is showing statesmanship and solid political leadership.
One doesn’t expect any reciprocity from the Palestinian leader.
But one certainly does from Brussels. The fact that a strong statement is not forthcoming from the EU’s leadership, that outright murder is couched and downgraded through political language and that the aggressor is treated in equal terms as the victim, is indeed worthy of the late comical Ali.
Except nobody in Israel, nor indeed the hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Europe, are laughing.
Instead they feel nauseous. It feels to them like Israeli and Jewish lives don’t matter.
And Europe, right now, is doing nothing to prove that this is not, in fact, the case.
Alex Benjamin is the director of EIPA
Today, the delegation will host the following speakers:
– Mr Jafar Farah, Director, Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel
-Mr Leonello Gabrici, Head of Division, Middle East II, Israel, occupied territories and Middle East Peace Process, European External Action Service
-Mr Jean-Louis Ville, Head of Unit, Governance, Democracy, Gender, Human Rights, DG DEVCO, European Commission
Check this space for news about this meeting!
“I am glad to hear his commitment to two states. EU ready to help,” EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini tweeted Wednesday night after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu publicly pledged his support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in his first clear policy statement on the issue since his new government was formed last week.
“I don’t support a one state solution – I don’t believe that’s a solution at all,” Netanyahu said as he met with Mogherini who is on a two-day visit.
“I support the vision of two states for two peoples – a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, and I look forward to discussing with you how we can advance that vision forth in a practical, secure and responsible way,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu assured Mogherini that he was committed to resolving the conflict.
“Israel wants peace. I want peace. We want a peace that would end the conflict once and for all. My position has not changed,” Netanyahu said. He added that Israel has taken tangible steps to make life easier for the Palestinians.
“We’ve taken economic steps, added measures for reconstruction and development and ensuring ongoing humanitarian support. We’ll continue with those practical steps,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister added that “if I look around at our region and the world, the most dangerous enemy of peace is Iran.” ” Iran is arming and training Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Iran is opening a third terror front against Israel in the Golan and it is pursuing its nuclear program, which I believe poses the greatest threat to the region and to the world.”
He stressed that the Lausanne program ”will not block Iran’s path to the bomb.” “Iran’s emerging deal with the world powers facilitates and legitimizes Iran’s continued development of the capabilities of forming nuclear weapons. And by prematurely easing sanctions, the deal will give Iran many billions of dollars with which to fund its aggression and its worldwide terror campaign.”
Prior to her arrival in the region, Mogherini said that the EU wanted to play a major role in relaunching the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians “on the basis of the two-state solution.”
“The EU is interested in peace and security for Israel and for the region because this is also our European peace and security.”
Earlier in Ramallah, where she met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Mogherini spoke against the status quo and said that it was a European, Palestinian and Israeli interest “to move forward, because there is no status quo.”
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzi Hotovely, who also met with Mogherini in Jerusalem, told the EU top diplomat that for the peace process to resume, the Palestinians need to return to the negotiating table and must halt their unilateral steps against Israel in the international arena.
Referring to the Jerusalem terror attack earlier in the day in which two Border Police Officers were hurt by a Palestinian terrorists who tried to run them down, Hotovely said that Europe should strongly condemn terrorism, as well as back Israel’s demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.
Hotovely welcomed Mogherini comment that she was interested in coming now after the establishment of the new Israeli government to listen to both sides, saying that her visit at the time had a “great deal of importance.”
Mogherini is scheduled to meet the leader of the Opposition Zionist Union Isaac Herzog and President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday, before she returns to Brussels.
By Yossi Lempkowicz, Senior Media Advisor at Europe Israel Press Association.