Thursday, December 01, 2005

Soft Power of Europe on the Jordan

Yesterday Shimon Peres took the step of abandoning the Israeli Labour Party that he has been serving for most of his life in order to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new political party.

In his emotional speech, he referred to what David Ben Gurion had teached him on putting duty to the country before everything else. Ben Gurion is something like the founding father of Israel.

But there was one section of his statement that caught my attention more than others. He said this:

"In my conversations with Mr. Sharon, we explored the possibility of expanding the scope of peace and development. In addition to the road map, we will work to create an economic triangle of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians that may enjoy a special status in the European Union."

I have never heard a vision like this expressed at such a high level and with connecting the possible prosperity zone directly with the European Union.

It is no more than a vision, and one that would take enormous effort to put into reality. But it is truly visionary in tying the economies of Israel, Palestine and Jordan together, and then tying this prosperity zone directly to the European Union.

But clearly it is possible. There is a slowly increasing role for the European Union in the Middle East peace process. And the Union is starting to develop more effective neighbourhood policies.

If these three coming countries can agree, there is no reason why this prosperity zone should not be offered as deep an inclusion in the European economic integration as they want.

The soft power of Europe is starting to be felt on the Jordan.