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Cooperation on regional and global issues

19 - Relations with the US on Israel and Palestine

Grade: B-
Unity 2/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 5/10
Total 11/20
Scorecard 2012: C- (6/20)
Scorecard 2013: C- (7/20)
Scorecard 2014: B+ (14/20)

Following the collapse of the peace talks, the US and the EU emphasised different priorities.

The collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks represented a significant setback for US and EU foreign policy. However, Europe and the US were relatively united on the conduct of the talks and Europeans generally welcomed the US initiative as well as Secretary of State John Kerry’s singular determination in pushing negotiations forward. The failure of the talks had little to do with US policy and primarily resulted from decisions taken by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

After the collapse, Palestinian premier Mahmoud Abbas turned to international institutions, including seeking a UN Security Council resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank by 2017 and for recognition of Palestine as a state. France backed the resolution while Britain abstained. With an 8–2 vote in favour, it failed to reach the nine votes required for passage (at which point it would have triggered a US veto). The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, criticised the resolution as well as Palestine’s efforts to join the International Criminal Court.

Meanwhile, European states moved to recognise the state of Palestine. Sweden was the first to do so officially, while the parliaments of the UK, Ireland, Spain, France, and Luxembourg along with the European Parliament all passed non-binding motions urging recognition. The EU’s policy of non-recognition of the Israeli settlements continued.

There is a difference in emphasis – at least publicly – across the Atlantic on diagnosing the breakdown in the talks. While the Obama administration has also criticised the Israeli settlement policy, more blame is attributed to the Palestinian Authority. For example, the US official view was that the establishment of a national Palestinian Authority government with the support of Hamas triggered the collapse of the talks. Americans tend to see Europe’s recognition of Palestine and pressuring of Israel as one-sided and believe it is unlikely to lead to a breakthrough unless Palestinian leaders can also be persuaded to make compromises that they have hitherto not made.