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Europe Snubs Israel, Courts Hamas By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, April 03, 2009

Reuters reported this week that the European Union is saying a summit with Israel, planned for the coming months, is probably called off.

With the Czech Republic currently holding the EU presidency, its foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg told a Czech newspaper that the EU is “not happy with some of the steps of the Israeli government, namely construction works close to Jerusalem but also access to Gaza, which is today very limited.” He added that “The new Israeli government has not raised much excitement either.”

In other words, in complaining about “construction works close to Jerusalem” and limited access to Gaza, Schwarzenberg was referring to alleged misdeeds of the previous Olmert government. Olmert, who formally handed the reins of power to Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, has boasted—accurately—that his government made the most generous offers of Palestinian statehood of any Israeli government to date.

But for Schwarzenberg—who is considered one of the most pro-Israeli European leaders, and during Operation Cast Lead went so far as to say Israel had a right to defend itself against rocket barrages on its civilian population—measures such as building homes for Jews in the Jerusalem vicinity, and trying to slow Hamas’s preparations in Gaza for the next round of fighting, are going too far.

Back in December the EU had approved an upgrade in relations with Israel involving summits with the Israeli prime minister and foreign minister as well as strategic dialogue on issues like Iran, Syria, and the Israeli-Palestinian situation. But now all that appears to be on hold thanks to the transgressions of Olmert and his crew—let alone whatever horrors the new Netanyahu government may be brewing.

Meanwhile it was also reported that Europe keeps putting out feelers to Hamas, with Switzerland and Norway currently leading the effort. Well-respected Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh says a top Hamas official, Ahmed Yussef, told him that “several [unnamed] European parties had been in contacts with Hamas officials in the past few months.”

These European parties are said to have urged that Hamas fulfill the familiar formula and “renounce violence, accept the two-state solution and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

The discrepancy is interesting: while Europe is already putting the freeze on an ostensible warming with Israel, punishing it for what Europe considers unpardonable offenses, all Hamas would have to do for Europe to enthusiastically befriend it is make a few statements.

That nothing but lip service is being requested of Hamas is something we know from the precedent of the PLO. About twenty years ago the PLO was in an analogous position to Hamas today, with Western parties begging it to join a “peace process.” When, in December 1988, PLO leader Yasser Arafat said he accepted UN resolutions that refer to Israel’s right to exist, there was jubilation and the PLO was well on the way to being inducted into a “process” that ended up unleashing unprecedented terror against Israel.

By May 6, 2002, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent the EU a 100-page file documenting Arafat’s direct personal responsibility for the terror and use of EU funds to finance it. One day later then-EU commissioner Chris Patten responded that “The EU Commission has to date not been shown any hard evidence that the EU funds have been misused to finance terrorism or for any other purpose”—and the EU went right on pouring money into the PLO/Palestinian Authority’s coffers as the atrocities against Israelis continued.

It may be that Hamas, compared to the PLO in 1988, is both too religiously fanatic and too optimistic about its prospects, not to mention its puppet-master in Tehran, to bite the bullet and say the magic words. Even if so, the new Israeli government will probably have less illusions than its predecessor about a Europe whose “morality” leads it to court terror while seeking to keep Jerusalem’s outskirts Jew-free.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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