I was signing off to go home to bed and decided to check my email first. This was in my "Barcelona Process" google alerts. The title speaks for itself. I wish Herb Peters were here to talk with about it, but the fellows from "borntowatch.com" and "fulfilledprophecy.com" are and I hope they will pay close attention.
The entire article bears close reading -- here are some relevant excerpts:
The EU should now actively support a reconciliation process, which must result in elections without further delay. This could provide a way out of the EU being limited to dealing with Fatah instead of an elected, representative Palestinian government – an important condition for any attempt to reinvigorate credible peace talks. And, crucially, this must kick-start a re-energised EU approach to building democracy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). I carried out a large number of interviews with Palestinian politicians, civil society representatives, academics, activists and artists in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2010: these show that the EU is fast losing goodwill among key sectors of the Palestinian population.
The EU’s democracy building agenda in the Mediterranean started with the Barcelona Process and the establishment of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). However, it experienced a slow start. Following the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the EU was willing to tolerate authoritarian rule and human rights violations by President Arafat for the sake of keeping alive the peace process. This changed with the second Intifada, and the 9/11, London and Madrid terrorist attacks. Both the Bush administration and the EU changed course. While the policy had hitherto been built on the belief that successful peace was a condition for democratisation, this assumption was now reversed.
The new approach also meant a change of stance towards the Palestinian Authority. In 2002, the EU set out to limit Arafat’s presidential powers by urging the PA to introduce the office of a prime minister; by fostering the rule of law with an independent judiciary and the call for the abolition of the infamous state security courts; by fighting corruption within the PA through the introduction of auditing mechanisms; by placing revenues under the auspices of the ministry of finance; and through an attempt to enhance the oversight capacity of the Palestinian Legislative Council.Subsequently, the democracy agenda received a boost with the introduction of the Action Plans in the frame of the European Neighborhood Policy (2004) and an upgrade of the EIDHR (2006/07).2002, the EU set out to limit Arafat’s presidential powers by urging the PA to introduce the office of a prime minister; by fostering the rule of law with an independent judiciary and the call for the abolition of the infamous state security courts; by fighting corruption within the PA through the introduction of auditing mechanisms; by placing revenues under the auspices of the ministry of finance; and through an attempt to enhance the oversight capacity of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
This approach was reversed after the 2006 elections, when the office of President Abbas was strengthened again relative to the office of Prime Minister Haniyeh. EU aid was once more distributed in opaque ways.
In addition, the majority of EU aid (approximately EUR 530 million in 2007) is dedicated to short-term socio-economic relief, instead of sustainable, long-term support for institution building. An even smaller amount is allocated to civil society capacity building. In recent years, funds for democracy have been modest and have concentrated on fighting corruption in the executive (EUR 27 million from 2004–2008), election support (EUR 20 million from 2000–2006), and on fostering the Palestinian judicial system (EUR 8 million from 2004–2008). Bottom-up democratisation through civil society bodies receives a maximum of EUR 1.2 million per year through the EIDHR.
How this will all play out certainly makes for interesting and prayerful study.
The conclusions call for the EU to give more quarter to Hamas than they have already given. This is an article I might expect from Al Jazeera. I was somewhat taken back to see it from a Hebrew University source.
Thus, if the EU is serious about building democracy in the Palestinian quasi-state, an honest encouragement of Palestinian national reconciliation – including some kind of engagement with Hamas – appears to be crucial. This would not only support the EU’s democracy agenda and restore its image, but also provide an important precondition for reviving peace talks and helping the conflicting parties out of the current deadlock.
Secondly, Palestinians barely distinguish de - mocracy promotion from the EU’s general foreign policy towards Israel and the OPT. Many interviewees, including Sari Nusseibeh, Palestinian academic and Director of Al Quds University, claimed that they are living under an ‘unfolding reality of Apartheid’ and that the two-state solution is on the verge of collapsing, which makes European democracy promotion towards the PA all rather pointless. Palestinians expect the EU to exert more pressure on Israel, particularly regarding the application of different laws towards settlers and Palestinians (Israeli versus military law), the constraint on the freedom of movement, and the holding of elections in East Jerusalem in accordance with the Oslo Accords. Rami Hamdallah, Secretary General of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, and many others, referred to the difficulties of carrying out elections under the restraints of occupation. The EU could be much more assertive towards Israel in this respect.