Sunday, 9 February 2014

United in diversity: the case for Israel in the EU

A 2011 opinion poll accounted that 81% of Israelis favoured the concept of their country becoming a member of the European Union. This is on par with the country on the European mainland with the highest level of enthusiasm for the EU, Belgium, where some of the EU's primary institutions are situated.

Like EU member Cyprus, Israel is not geographically European; but as a multicultural nation of primarily European immigrants in its relative infancy, with these various cultures mutually cohabiting, it is arguably the most European country in the world.

But I will get straight to the elephant in the room: Israel in the present is inhibited from joining the EU, in contradiction to the overwhelming desire of its citizens, due to violations of international law, and thereby the European Convention on Human Rights, by its government.

Inherent to the EU applications of countries such as Turkey and Serbia is that the governments of these countries resolve their human rights issues; Israel would be required to cease its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, and its human rights violations against the Palestinian (and Black African) populations within and outside of Israeli territory. Upon Israel's adherence to policies conforming to the conventions of the ECHR, the EU could effectively facilitate and bolster UN negotiations towards a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine.

The EU is an imperfect institution: its enforcement of barbaric austerity onto its Southern European member states most significantly attributes to this. But perhaps, pragmatically, a united Israeli-Palestinian state abiding to the human, social and economic rights criteria of EU membership, a cause which Israelis overwhelmingly support, would be the greatest lever for peace, justice and stability in the region.