Israel and the EU: Political History
In addition to prejudging the outcome of the Arab-Israeli conflict and calling upon
Israel to negotiate with the PLO when it was still engaged in terrorist activities against
Israel, the Europeans also displayed their partiality by imposing economic sanctions when
they disagreed with Israeli policy. Economic sanctions provide the EU with long
sought-after political leverage, as a British member of the European Parliament disclosed
in October 1988:
"Although my group does not favor using trade agreements to achieve political
objectives, we have discovered what a powerful weapon for achieving objectives Parliament
has at its disposal in its dealings with those countries with which we have trade
Israels invasion of Lebanon in 1982 provided the Europeans with their first
opportunity to employ economic sanctions for political pressure. At the time, the EC
Council of Ministers put the 1975 trade agreement on hold and delayed for one year the
signing of a financial protocol with Israel that had already been initialed.
The Palestinian uprising, or intifada, served to highlight Europes one-sided
approach toward the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Refraining from criticism of Palestinian
violence and terrorism, the various organs of the European Union repeatedly condemned
Israel and imposed sanctions on the Jewish State. In March 1988, the European Parliament
delayed approving three trade and financial agreements because of Israels alleged
repression of the intifada and its obstruction of Palestinian exports.
|"...the Europeans also displayed their partiality by imposing economic sanctions when
they disagreed with Israeli policy."|
The protocols were later ratified in October 1988, only after Israel granted trade
concessions to the Palestinians, agreeing to permit Palestinian products to transit
Israeli ports en route to Europe with no Israeli processing or change in certificates of
In December 1989, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning "the
continuous ban on teaching for the Palestinian population of the West Bank" and
calling for a suspension of cultural ties with Israel.
On the basis of alleged Israeli disrespect for human rights, the European Commission
suspended the meeting of the Joint Scientific Committee in February 1990, thereby
suspending examination of 15 new proposed projects. The Commission also postponed the
signing of a cooperation agreement in the field of energy and delayed the visit of a
senior European Commission official to Israel.
Finally, since the late 1980s, Israel had been seeking a new trade pact with the
Europeans to replace the outdated 1975 accord. Europe kept delaying negotiations with
Israel because of the lack of progress on the peacemaking front. Negotiations were finally
launched after the Oslo breakthrough and an agreement was reached in November 1995.
Next: EU & Current Peacemaking