Despite the huge change in the facts on the ground since the Oslo Accords, the European Union has stood firm vis-à-vis its position on how to resolve the Palestinian question. The European Union still believes that the best solution is two states based on relevant United Nations’ resolutions. Incidentally, this position is also that of the Palestinian Authority, but it seems that hardly any other major players feel the same; certainly not the current US administration. A number of member states have already recognized Palestine, while all have diplomatic representation to the Palestinian Authority.
In local politics, giving the excuse of the current Palestinian political schism, Israel claims that it does not have a Palestinian partner. The truth, however, is that with a right-wing government and its expansionist greed, it is the Palestinians who do not have an Israeli partner. As if that were not enough, it is evident that Israel is doing its best to coerce and weaken the recognized Palestinian leadership in order to extract a solution imposed by Israel. This does not bode well with the official position of the European Union, which continues to be the largest donor to the Palestinians. In 2018, total aid came to nearly €350 million.
Since 1975, when the relationship was established between the European Union and Palestine (initially through the PLO), that relationship has been cordial and based on mutual respect. Palestinians have always been grateful for the EU stand and support. That said, Palestinians today wish and hope that the European Union would take bolder steps to defend them against the smear campaign and the economic boycott that both Israel and the United States are waging upon them. The international geopolitical situation is no doubt changing, and the United States today is surely not where it was 20 years ago. At that time, over 120 countries rallied behind it when it attacked Iraq. Today, it is not able to recruit a handful of countries for a naval force to be stationed in the Persian Gulf. We should not forget that Russia and China today are a match both militarily and economically.
There have been shy attempts by Europe to take a different position than that of the Americans on international issues, particularly on Iran. Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, for instance, was bold to bluntly say no to the naval force; even Gibraltar stood up to the United States and refused to hold the Iranian oil vessel. But these timid voices need to be bolder, and I believe that the time has come for the European Union to break with its history of acquiescence to the United States.
Admittedly for selfish reasons, Palestinians need Europe to be strong. And Europe is undoubtedly in position not only to play a bigger international role but also to lead the world when it comes to such issues as human rights, self-determination, the environment, culture, and other human values.
Long live Palestine!