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EU Foreign Policy and the Role of NGOs: The Arab-Israeli Conflict as a Case Study

Abstract

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The European Union’s structural weakness in foreign policy making, and the emphasis on soft power in promoting norms, contribute significantly to close cooperation with civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).The EU provides core funding to hundreds of NGOs and receives legitimacy, information, and analysis from them. In return, this interdependence allows NGOs to expand their impact in many areas, including foreign policy.

This study analyses the relationship between NGOs and EU decision-making in the foreign policy realm, particularly in the context of the Arab-Israel conflict. By examining EU documents on key issues, such as Jerusalem, settlements, Israeli-Arab citizens, and guidelines for cooperation with Israeli institutions, the article highlights the direct impact of selected NGOs. We argue that the close and mutual NGO-EU dependency has significant political and theoretical ramifications.

About the Author

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg

Professor Gerald Steinberg is founder and president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University. He is the founder of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University. His research focuses on the changing nature of power in international relations, as reflected in Middle East Diplomacy and Security, The Politics of Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and Israeli Politics and Arms Control.