I’m out of the U.S. but this story doesn’t not seem to have made it to the front page of the NYT or to my FB feed. But here in Israel, it’s a big story. Is it a tipping point? Is this how things start to change? Who knows for sure, but something about it “feels” fundamentally different, the recent EU decision to exclude settlements from all agreements signed by the EU and Israel.
Anyone wanting to sort things out can look first to Yair Rosenberg’s piece in Tablet, and then to what I think is the more considered understanding by Michael Koplow at Ottomans and Zionists. Rosenberg explains just how limited an act the EU decision in fact is, more like a soft economic shot across the bow. Koplow explains just how this act might turn out to be an incremental step towards stronger forms of economic and political bite.
If “recognition” and “non-recognition” are key to the Israel-Palestine debate, then this mounting refusal by the EU to accept the Israeli occupation of the West Bank adds one more line to the struggle. The U.S. may be Israel’s major backer, but Europe and the EU are Israel’s major trading partners. So who calls the shots?
I would advise folk on the Jewish and Israeli right to save their breath. Increasingly, arguments about Israel and Palestine are not got going to revolve around grand narratives about moral and historical rights or wrongs, but about the sheer distribution of power. It’s hard to see why the EU decision is not unreasonable. There’s nothing like a sharp slap in the face to get a little attention.