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EU Loses Patience With Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry's statements of "progress" in the peace process are keeping the European Union from taking a more proactive role.
Israel's President Shimon Peres (L) talks during a joint news conference with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy after a meeting at the EU Council in Brussels March 6, 2013.          REUTERS/Eric Vidal                       (BELGIUM - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3ENQR
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Several days before US Secretary of State John Kerry started his fifth round of shuttle diplomacy in the region, Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, wound up a working visit to Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Israel and the West Bank. In Jerusalem, Ashton met a confused and even frightened Israeli prime minister. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fear of the shock waves going through Egypt and Syria and the instability in Jordan are competing with his anxiety over Iran’s nuclear program, and recently also with concern about Israel becoming a binational state. On the face of it, Netanyahu understands that freezing the diplomatic process will perpetuate the binational reality that already exists between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Actually, he refuses to pay the list price for changing this reality, especially given the regional turbulence.

Ashton, like other important European diplomats, believes that the volatile situation in Israel’s immediate surroundings actually makes the need to prevent an additional upheaval in the region especially urgent. They question the assumption — which appears in Shlomi Eldar’s article, too — that the continued stalemate in negotiations will not affect the situation in the occupied territories. In Brussels, the prevailing assumption is that the repercussions of the failed diplomacy for the status of the Palestinian Authority (PA) should be taken into account in the coming months. They warn that the cumulative rage against the occupation and the settlements, the lack of hope for a diplomatic arrangement and the fear of an economic collapse will bring the Arab Spring to the Palestinian arena and result in the toppling of the PA and cause governmental and security chaos. 

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