Amazing piece in Financial Times by Lord Chris Patten, a head of the International Crisis Group and a former overseas minister, pushing a Palestinian state now, in part because the occupation is bleeding Europe. The destruction he refers to– I saw it in Gaza. All these modern factories that the Scandinavians had helped to build: wantonly destroyed in a vandal operation. Lord Patten:
Europe can play a particularly valuable role in preventing the splintering of Palestine and in establishing a functioning Palestinian authority, ready to morph into the government of a future state. …We should state clearly that Europeans will accept the results provided the process is fair. Our preference should be the emergence of a government of national unity. We should go further and say explicitly that we will deal with and support such a government, if it unequivocally supports a cease-fire and keeps to past commitments (it is a pity that Israel has not done so). Moreover we should encourage such a government to negotiate a settlement with Israel and undertake to put the results of any agreement to all Palestinians in a referendum, abiding by the result.
Beyond this, the EU should continue to work with Norway and others in building state institutions in Palestine and providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinians whose lives have been blighted by Israel’s blockade and other policies. But we should be clear that this cannot be an open-ended commitment to pay the costs of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. At present, international donors meet most of the bill for the consequences of occupation that should be met under the Geneva convention by Israel. Over the last year, the cost to the EU and its members has risen to about €1bn.
How long can donors justify this expenditure? If Israel continues, as its prime minister says it will, to build settlements, making an agreement on a viable Palestinian state all but impossible, should the international community simply shrug its shoulders and write more cheques? The money that I spent in Palestine on behalf of European voters and taxpayers over five years as a European commissioner has drained away into the blood-soaked sand. Many projects funded by European taxpayers have been reduced to rubble by the Israeli Defence Forces. Is Europe’s role in the region to be the paymaster for intransigence and the use of disproportionate force?