It is high time for Europe to change its approach to Palestine

The latest round of fighting should serve as a wake up call for the EU

Palestinians sit near houses destroyed by Israeli bombardment, northern Gaza, 1 June 2021

Andrea Dessi writes in Aljazeera:

The recent escalation in Israel-Palestine has once again turned the world’s attention to Israel’s 53-year-long occupation and its systemic violations of the most basic human rights of the Palestinian people. It also demonstrated clearly that the strategies the European Union has long been pursuing to try and end the conflict and further its interests in the Middle East are not working and may even be making matters worse.

On May 21, a fragile ceasefire brought 11 days of Israeli bombing raids on the besieged Gaza Strip and Hamas rocket fire on Israeli cities to an end, but there is little room for celebration – none of the underlying causes that led to this escalation has yet been addressed. To help prevent another devastating confrontation, European governments must radically change course. They should adopt a new approach grounded in international law and multilateralism and move to demand accountability from both sides.

Repeating old mantras of support for two states while demanding two fundamentally asymmetric sides to enter into direct negotiations will not lead to a breakthrough. Attempting to isolate Hamas, or embarking on yet another reconstruction effort in Gaza would also not provide a sustainable solution. Any effort that does not take into consideration the bigger picture of Israeli occupation and structural violence against millions of Palestinians are doomed to fail. Approaches that try to ease symptoms without curing the disease would provide neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians with more security and stability.

Therefore, any European effort towards Israel and Palestine should first address the occupation and the resultant state-sponsored discrimination that fuel conflict.

Responsibility for the recent crisis rests largely on the shoulders of Israel’s outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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