Julie Stahl | Jerusalem Bureau Chief | Friday, January 2, 2004
Washington has often backed Israel's position against the Palestinians, particularly in its war on terrorism over the last three years. The United State is also perceived by the Arab world to be pro-Israel.
President Bush has consistently refused to meet with PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been a guest at the White House many times.
The EU has argued that it is a neutral observer. But Israel has rejected direct EU participation in the peace process fearing that what it considers the EU's pro-Palestinian bias would tip the scales in favor of the Palestinians.
The EU has backed the Palestinian Authority since the beginning of the Oslo process in 1992, becoming one of its main financial supporters and giving the PA hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) since then.
EU parliamentarian Ilka Schroeder charged that EU backing for the PA goes beyond support for the Palestinian cause and is actually part of a secret agenda to gain power in the world.
"For me it is obvious that the Middle East has become one of the most important fields of European military superpower ambitions," Schroeder said.
"The primary goal of the EU is the internationalization of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict in order to underline the need for its own mediating role. ... The longer the conflict continues and the deeper it gets, the more evident is the incapability of the U.S. to moderate the peace process," Schroeder told diplomats and journalists at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem this week.
"The need for a solution only exists as long as war continues. This is why the EU does not want the conflict to end before it gains [a] major role. And this is why the EU does not wish the PA to give up too early and why the EU is strengthening the PA.
"The EU is ... stirring up conflict that it supposedly wants to see resolved by financing one side. This is inherently inhuman purpose of EU humanitarian aid in the region. The Palestinians are playing the ugly role of cannon fodder of Europe's hidden war against the U.S.," Schroeder charged.
Schroeder, who has served in the European parliament since 1999, is currently an independent member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left.
She started an initiative in the European parliament several years ago to investigate the possible PA misuse of EU funds when Israel put a freeze on the transfer of tax revenues to the PA, fearing that those monies would then be used to fund terror attacks against Israel.
At the time, the EU dismissed Israeli allegations as propaganda.
After Israel raided Arafat's Mukata headquarters compound in Ramallah in 2002 and removed truckloads of official PA documents, Israel confronted the EU with the charge that funds it was transferring to the PA were being used to finance terrorism.
Despite the fact that more than 170 European parliamentarians have now joined Schroeder's initiative for an investigation, she said, it has "pretty much failed."
"European parliament does not intend to verify whether European taxpayers money could have been used to finance anti-Semitic, murderous attacks," she said.
'Road Map' EU Success
According to Schroeder, although the current Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, known as the "road map," was supposedly derived from Bush's peace plan for the region, the EU considers it a big success that the plan was enshrined as U.S. Middle East policy.
"This road map was a German invention that is now in a modified version a part of the official policy of the U.S. ... There was a European success to make the road map the official policy of the U.S. government," she said.
In June 2002, Bush delivered a major Middle East policy address, which called on the Palestinians to elect new leaders "not compromised by terror" - an obvious reference, though not by name, to Arafat and his PLO associates.
Israel welcomed the address, which called on the Palestinians first of all to bring a halt to terror. But the Palestinians rejected Bush's call for a new leadership.
However, a few months later, the U.S. had teamed up with other members of the so-called Quartet, including the EU, United Nations and Russia, to pen the "road map" peace plan, which was supposed to have been based on Bush's speech.
The road map called for Israel to withdraw to positions it had held before the beginning of Palestinian violence in September 2000, the dismantling of illegal outposts in the West Bank, and a cessation of military operations in PA areas - operations, which Israel credited with reducing the number of terror attacks.
The plan required the PA to appoint a prime minister, reorganize its security forces and resume security cooperation with Israel and it promised the PA a state more or less unconditionally by 2005.
"The premise of this plan is that all that is missing for real peace is an independent Palestinian state. In this concept, Israel is held responsible for the existence of an aggressive Palestinian nationalism, for terrorist acts committed against its own citizens and the growth of anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism all over the world.
"Before this happened, Israel and the U.S. demanded the end of terrorist acts as a sign of goodwill from the PA before negotiations could start. Had the PA done this it would have been a sign that they had changed their strategy and wanted to be a real partner in a lasting peace process," Schroeder said.
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