Monday, August 28, 2006

A Role For Europe?

Although I´m sitting in Bled discussing Caucasus and the Caspian region, the issues of the Middle East continue to be in focus.

In the shadow of the developments around the Lebanon conflict, there is a dramatically changed situation in Ramallah and on the West Bank. And I would argue that for all the importance of handling the aftermath of the Lebanon war, it's now imperative not the least for the European Union to start to address the Palestinian issues.

The situation there is simply not sustainable. A stat of collapse and chaos is drawing nearer.

There seems to two alternatives.

One is to accept a new Hamas-Fatah coalition government of the Palestinian Authority and an end to the Israeli and international sanctions against it.

The other might well lead to a dissolution of the Palestinian Authority - since it is collapsed by the sanctions anyhow - and going back to direct Israeli occupation rule as it was before the Oslo agreement.

An article in Egyptian Al-Ahram spells out the options that are on the table, and if you strip the text of some of the hyperbole it seems like a good summary of the situation.

This clearly calls for concerted international diplomacy. And with the US have locked itself in a situation of supporting nearly whatever Tel Aviv does, there is a new opening for the European Union.

Next weekend, all the foreign ministers of the European Union are heading for Lappeenranta in Finland for their informal so called Gymnich meeting.

This is a subject they can't avoid. Europe has a responsibility.