Europe should look to the West Bank

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Publication Date February 2024
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Europeans should push for more humanitarian assistance to reach Gaza and maintain their funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Europeans should also push for an end to the fighting, and urge all sides to avoid escalation. At the same time, they need to focus on pursuing concrete steps to pave the way for long-term diplomacy.

First, they should try to persuade Arab partners and the US to link potential normalisation to concrete Israeli steps to empower the Palestinian Authority (PA). The EU is planning a peace conference, which could be framed as an effort to build consensus for such a plan even if the current Israeli government flatly rejects it. Second, Europeans should be firmer in pushing back against Israel’s policies in the West Bank. Recognising Palestinian statehood, as some European countries are considering, would be a symbolic step but would not change much. Instead, Europeans should sanction extremist settlers and seriously implement a ‘differentiation’ policy that distinguishes between the occupied territories and Israel proper. Third, Europeans should try to push the PA to renew its leadership and increase its transparency and accountability. Cutting aid is unlikely to be effective, but Europeans could offer additional financial assistance and tie it to clear targets.

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