How the European Union Failed to Keep the Peace in Gaza

Aug. 25 2020

As Hamas returns to attacking Israeli civilians with rockets and kite- and balloon-born explosives, Gerald Steinberg revisits the role played by the European Union Border Assistance Monitors (EUBAM), a peacekeeping force deployed to Gaza after Israel’s 2005 withdrawal. Stationed at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Strip, EUBAM’s mission was to supervise the Palestinian Authority (PA) border police and ensure that weapons and other contraband, as well as criminals and terrorists, didn’t enter Gaza. The force’s poor performance hasn’t stopped the Europeans from urging Jerusalem to make further territorial concessions:

From the beginning, this EU monitoring presence . . . demonstrated the chasm between high-minded talk and the reality of conflict and terrorism on the ground. . . . Weapons smuggling [into Gaza] continued, and on December 30, 2005, a few weeks after their initial deployment, EUBAM monitors fled Rafah to the safety of an Israeli military base when Palestinian police officers stormed the crossing, in what was described for media and diplomatic consumption as a “protest demonstration.”

Three months later, the monitors fled once again following a wave of foreigner kidnappings in Gaza. The EUBAM team returned, but with no actual monitoring, and when attacks from Gaza . . . escalated, the EU officials were bystanders.

The force hasn’t operated at all since the Hamas takeover of the Strip in 2007, although the crossing remains open. Steinberg adds:

In European political folklore, EUBAM’s failure, like everything else connected to the Palestinians, is blamed on Israel. . . . In reality, while the EU wanted credit for having an active role, they did not want the accompanying responsibility. The monitors moved to a hotel in Ashkelon and then an office in Ramat Gan, where, in theory, they remain on standby, thirteen years later, “maintaining readiness to redeploy to the Rafah Crossing Point once the political and security situation allows within short notice.”

This history is part of the EU’s legacy and should be recalled whenever officials such as Josep Borrell, vice-president in charge of foreign policy, lecture Israelis on how to make peace and help the people of Gaza.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Gaza withdrawal, Hamas, Peacekeepers

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism