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Research Report

The European Union and the crisis in the Middle East

Muriel Asseburg
Dominique Moïsi
Gerd Nonneman
Stefano Silvestri
Martin Ortega
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2003
Pages: 98
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep06963
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 7-10)
    Martin Ortega

    In summer 2000 the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians hosted by President Clinton at Camp David raised the prospect of a peaceful resolution of the most sensitive aspects of their controversy, after almost nine years of difficult but promising exchanges following on from the Madrid Conference of November 1991. Nevertheless, Yasser Arafat’s refusal to accept the terms negotiated at Camp David and the outbreak of a second intifada on 28 September 2000 led to a spiral of violence that dashed hopes for peace, leading instead to low-intensity war. Nor did the election of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister in February...

  2. (pp. 11-26)
    Muriel Asseburg

    Following the historic breakthrough between Israel and the PLO in the Oslo negotiations and their mutual recognition in September 1993, the EU was eager to become engaged in support of the ensuing peace process. The EU concentrated its efforts on supporting the creation of an environment that would make possible lasting peace in the region rather than contributing directly to a political solution between the conflicting parties. EU support was to be complementary and parallel to the political negotiations at the official level. It was only with the collapse of the Oslo process and the outbreak of the second, or...

  3. (pp. 27-32)
    Dominique Moïsi

    The year 2002 ended in the Middle East as it began – in blood and violence. In the space of ten years, from the beginning of the Oslo process to the present time, the mood in the region has swung from hope to despair. In this discouraging context, what can Europe do apart from denouncing the escalation of violence and bemoaning its own powerlessness? The line that it has adopted for a number of years, which consists in passionately supporting the moderates in both camps, is doubtless the only one possible from a moral and diplomatic point of view but,...

  4. (pp. 33-46)
    Gerd Nonneman

    There have long been a variety of judgements on the role of the United States in the Middle East. The main strands in these views could be classified under the headings (a) benevolent; (b) blundering; (c) conspiracy: oil and Israel; and (d) rational calculation of national interests. These differing interpretations are present also in Europe. They need not, of course, be mutually exclusive, although those most vociferously advocating any one of them usually argue otherwise. Even (or especially) for critics of US policy on the Arab-Israeli dispute, it is important to steer clear of simplistic conspiratorial analyses, and instead recognise...

  5. (pp. 47-51)
    Stefano Silvestri

    The European Union’s policy towards the Middle East poses a number of complex problems, the more so because this policy has an important transatlantic dimension.

    Traditionally there has been a ‘positive’ division of labour between the EU and the United States. The United States has guaranteed the security of Israel and of the moderate Arab governments (as well as the security of the main oil and gas transit lines). The EU has in general given political backing to the United States, while also keeping open a number of channels with more ‘problematic’ countries and governments. At the same time the...

  6. (pp. 52-63)
    Martin Ortega

    It is always difficult to bring an intelligent dialogue to a close. The richness and variety of the contributions to this paper demonstrate that four Europeans can make assessments that are pertinent albeit different. Nevertheless, they contain common elements, making it possible to speak of a common European viewpoint. These contributions do not of course cover all possible European views, and the aim of this concluding section is not to elucidate that ‘European point of view’. Rather, this conclusion represents a personal comment on the main ideas put forward by authors, together with a no less subjective look at how...