Rory Miller

Hurst & Company, 2011


Over four decades the European Union has attempted but failed to bring about any settlement of the Israel-Palestine dispute and “In fact, one can make the case that nowhere has the gap between European rhetoric and action been more obvious, and nowhere has the accusation that Europe is an ‘economic giant but a political pygmy’ been more true. Much has been made of Europe’s use of soft power but soft power as wielded by the European Union will only work if the members of the EU work together.

This is the story of how the entity of Europe tried to find a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and failed. As much as anything the book reveals how the states of Europe seem incapable of finding and adopting a single policy. Over the years this failure was matched by the intransigence of Israel, which, in turn, could work with France, or Germany or Britain and play them off against each other. Forty years of failure augurs ill for the future of the EU at levels other than this particular problem.

Germany goes one way, France almost always works on its own and tries to get the rest of Europe to follow its lead. Britain, though increasingly concerned to achieve a proper settlement, is always prone to look over its shoulder to see what the United States will do – or refuse to do. While rejecting EU suggestions and interference, Israel cannot afford to fall out with Europe or the principal countries most concerned with the problem – Britain, France and Germany. Israel is desperate to find allies and must always wonder if or when the United States might walk away from its protégé and cease to provide the blanket protection that it has since 1967.

Germany’s Joschka Fischer once said that, “solving the Middle East and developing a real vision of peace is the major challenge for Europe.” This aim has never been achieved and in the end everyone looks to the United States to solve the problem. The EU did no better when it came to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. The Maastricht Treaty (formally the Treaty on European Union, TEU), which institutionalised Europe’s Common Security and Foreign Policy (CSFP), was signed in February 1992 and entered into force in November 1993 yet no discernible change took place in the way the principal players behaved and no single policy toward Israel emerged.