The relationship between the European Union and Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israel-Palestine peace

A brief history of the European Union's involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The role of the European Union in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fundamental. Today, the territory of Israel is the main result of many Jewish survivors, who fled the continent. Quickly, Europe has measured the issues of the Middle East. In 1977, at the London summit, members of the European Community claimed that the solution to the conflict will not be reached without recognition of the national identity of the Palestinian people and their right to have their own land.

This position was strengthened by the Venice Declaration of 1980. The Oslo Accords in 1993 triggered a milestone in the history of the conflict. The peace process between Israel and Palestine was very well received in Europe. The EU has funded the emergence of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and launched the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in 1995, which was supposed to provide tools to extend its influence on the developing regions. In 1999, the European Union made a new step forward with a statement by the Berlin European Council, calling for the creation of a democratic and viable Palestinian state.

On the other hand, a "quartet" is established between the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations for a solution and a peace plan. But the EU is rather marginalized. Even if the EU defends the emergence of the Palestinian state, it still won't have a role in determining the way the new state will be governed. In fact, Europe is weakened while observing the Camp David summit in 2000. Faced with a deteriorating situation in the occupied territories, the European Union is beginning to provide direct budget subsidies to the Palestinian Authority and to intensify the humanitarian aid.

In January 2006, Hamas won the elections, which confronts the European Union to face a serious problem and highlights the issue of support to the Palestinian Authority. Then, gradually, the EU disengaged in politics. In Annapolis, it considered that the United States is the sole judges of the peace process. Today, the situation seems to be paradoxical. If renewed tensions emerged in the summer of 2014, diplomatic pressure from many European states can tip the balance toward signs of hope

The European Union influence within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Consisting of an aggregate of its members, the intelligibility of the external action of the EU is damaging. Europe recognizes both the irrevocable right of Israel to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders. At the same time, the EU calls for the need to establish a democratic, viable and peaceful Palestinian state corresponding to the 1976 borders.

Unfortunately, the European Union does not have the resources they need. The European Parliament democratic sphere only has an advisory role. Indeed, countries such as Germany, the UK and the Netherlands do not want to express a firm point towards Israel considering the footprint of the Holocaust. Other countries in Eastern Europe, need confidence and tend to look to the United States and the Atlantic Alliance. European countries are also deeply divided on the approach, after the victory of Hamas in the 2006.

While countries such as Sweden, Finland and Spain call for the normalization of relations with Hamas, they remain a minority. But beyond the politics, the EU lacks the military means. It has no military way, and to Israel, only the United States can play an effective role in the peace process and ensure the safety of their territory.

The European Union must take responsibility

The European Union seems to have lost its credibility through the various positions towards both Hamas and Fatah. But recently, the renewal of the European institutions has revived diplomatic hope. Federica Mogherini, the new High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy yearns for the EU to play a key role in the peace process in the Middle East. She wants to return to the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

On December 17, a resolution of the European Parliament expressed with 498 votes the recognition of Palestinian state and declares illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory. On October 13, members of the British Parliament also voted the recognition. Although the vote is largely symbolic and does not impact the British government policy, it nevertheless marks a significant step in the evolution of the English and European policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But, most of the European governments prefer to avoid making tough decisions.

Therefore, the status quo has settled. Last July, the EU has published guidelines including the ban on Israeli facilities beyond the 1967. To get out of a confederation of two states is possible, but we can doubt the Israeli agreement. The EU is measuring issues. European leaders must take their responsibility.


Schmid Dorothée, « Palestine : la problématique de l'aide », Politique étrangère 3/ 2006 (Automne), p. 491-503

Gheur Charles, « L'Union européenne face au conflit israélo-palestinien » Equidistance ?, Études, 2003/9 Tome 399, p. 163-174.

Nusseibeh Sari, « Palestine : l'histoire avance plus vite que les idées », Politique étrangère, 2013/3 Automne, p. 11-22. DOI : 10.3917/pe.133.0011

Irondelle Bastien et Petiteville Franck, « La politique étrangère européenne en débats », Politique européenne, 2005/3 n° 17, p. 5-9. DOI : 10.3917/poeu.017.0005

LEFEBVRE, Maxime.La politique étrangère et de sécurité européenne :politique commune ou agrégat de diplomaties nationales ?, 2014 (page consultée le 09décembre2014) 


Mattia Toaldo, Hugh Lovatt. What Palestinians can expect from Europe, 17th October, 2014 (page consulté le 11 décembre 2014)

European Union Center of North Carolina. Europes Role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, EU Briefings, March 2008 (page consulté le 17 décembre 2014)

RFI: Géopolitique le débat : Israël/ Palestine : vers une modification des paramètres ? Belgique, 21/12/2014