Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Israel has won the European cup: a special relationship

Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 18 June 2008

"During her sixth visit to Israel since last November's Annapolis summit, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complained that the thousands of new housing units, built in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land were damaging the peace talks with Palestinians. Meanwhile, at a joint press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Luxembourg, the same day, Slovenia's Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, announced that the EU had decided to upgrade its political and economic relations with Israel. Rupel, who chaired the EU-Israel Association Council meeting, the body overseeing the relationship, stated that the EU and Israel are "elevating" their relations to a new level of "more intense, more fruitful, more influential cooperation." Israel has now been granted the highest level of relations available to a non-member state......

With East European newcomers, the EU has now a bigger share of friends of Israel. Notably the Czech Republic and Poland opposed any linking of the upgrade of relations with Israel to its behavior. With the return of right-wing governments in France and Italy, EU policy has tilted more towards the line of the Bush Administration. As France, led by President Nicolas Sarkozy, takes over the EU presidency on 1 July, it is expected that the tilt towards Israel will continue."

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