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Monday, May 26, 2003

Of Lions and Lambs

Interesting post here from Henry although it seems to have originated in Haaretz. The idea is appernetly being floated in Israel that they join the EU. A researcher at Cato has added that this should be together with any new Palestinian state, and Iraq. Henry himself adds on Turkey. While I like some of this in principle, I think we are in danger of making an awful muddle. I think we are going down a bad road if we distance Israel even more from its already distant neighbours. The job is to build bridges, not place more walls. The key to the middle east is in the middle east, however attractive Henry's 'road map' at face value. Turkey is another matter, and Morroco. There are strong demographic, cultural and logistical reasons why these countries could benefit Europe, and Europe benefit from their presence in return. Long term I still suggest India as our best bet for having a part to play in the future.

But on another level my plea is for another road. For a global vision. The piecemeal approach means we will inevitably create insiders and outsiders, and be at risk of the criticism that we are only using everyone else to solve our own problems. Love it or hate it, the road passes through the UN and Multilateralism.

Moving on to the bigger issue … I don’t see Israel becoming a member of the EU anytime soon. But in the medium term, it actually might not be a bad idea at all. The Sharon government is, for the most part, appalling, and Israel has done, and continues to do, genuinely unconscionable things to the Palestinians. Israel is, however, the closest thing to a real democracy in the region. Its main problem is that it can’t make its mind up as to whether it wants to be a genuinely pluralist democracy, with all the commitments to minority rights etc that this would entail, or not. Membership of the EU might help consolidate this pluralism, as it has in other countries (Spain, Greece, Portugal). Moreover, all EU member states have to be members of the European Convention on Human Rights, which has strong and justiciable rules on the use of torture, collective punishment etc. And there is some evidence that EU membership helped transform the previously intractable conflict in Northern Ireland, by reshaping people’s ideas about what national self determination involved in practice.
Source: Gallowglass

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