More than once since assuming office last December, Josep Borrell, the Spanish politician who serves as the EU’s foreign minister, has formally called upon the Jewish state to “abide by international law.” He has specifically exhorted Israel not to extend its sovereignty over the West Bank, occasionally warning that the EU will exact punishment should that happen. Yet it remains unclear whether the European Union would really follow through on these threats, and whether those countries more friendly to Jerusalem would block such an action. Lahav Harkov takes stock:
Hungary’s current government views itself as aligned with President Trump in many ways, and has enthusiastically backed the American peace plan, including [the extension of Israeli law to parts of the West Bank], and in that way is unique even among the more pro-American EU member states. Austria and the Czech Republic are both deeply pro-Israel with almost no political opposition to their governments’ policies toward the Jewish state. Even if Israel moves forward with sovereignty, at least one, if not all, of the friendlier countries is likely to veto economic sanctions.
If the vast majority of Israel’s biggest trading partner were to oppose trade, it would leave Israel in an uncomfortable position, but one country’s objection is enough to salvage the situation. Individual countries cannot ban trade. Trade policy is set by the EU as a whole and not by individual or subgroups of member states. However, next year the EU will launch Horizon Europe, a 100 billion-euro scientific research initiative, on which Israeli science and innovation are very dependent. A single country can veto Israel’s participation in the program. Or individual countries can ban research cooperation with Israel.
There has also been some talk of withdrawal from the 2013 Open Skies Agreement, which allows for direct flights between Israel and any airport in the EU.
Moving forward, if Israel wants to strengthen its position in the EU and not just be dependent on one, two, or three countries, one European diplomat recommended that Israel work harder to foster closer ties with other pro-American EU member states. The Baltic states are particularly vulnerable to Russian intervention and have been victims of repeated cyberattacks, and thus tend to be more aligned with the U.S., and could use Israel’s cybersecurity expertise.
Read more on Jerusalem Post: https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/can-israels-friends-save-it-from-the-eus-wrath-630375