Gerald Steinberg 2 (2)Click here to read full article.


[F]ar from a minor and irrelevant technical glitch, as claimed by EU officials, the Hamas court case provided a long overdue window into the systematic failures of European Union’s foreign policy decision making, particularly regarding complex Israeli-Arab issues. Even a cursory examination of these EU policies exposes the degree to which slogans and myths, as repeated by journalists and officials of non-govermental organizations (NGOs), form the basis for decisions on crucial issues of war and peace. And the NGO input is, in turn, recycled through ready to print press releases, and quoted by the government officials. The result is an EU echo chamber, easily manipulated and cut off from the real world.

Many of the EU’s policies regarding Israel and the conflict are made by cutting and pasting the publications and tracts of political advocacy groups, including on such complex and sensitive isues as Jerusalem, borders, human rights, Bedoiun land claims in the Negev, and the status of other Israeli minority groups. The claims of these groups, in turn, are usually based on hearsay (“Palestinian eyewitness testimony), and, as in the case of the Hamas decision in 2001, media reports and “the internet”.

There are many [] examples of the EU’s lack of due diligence — all depressingly following a similar pattern of outsourcing policy making on complex and high value issues, particularly related to Israel, to institutions and processes that lack basic accountability requirements. And the reverse is also true — items that are not on the NGO and media agendas are also missing or low on the EEAS and EU priority lists. Thus, while a huge NGO- EU structure exists to count every centimeter of construction over the 1949 Green Line “settlements”, and to support the flood of unsupported allegations of Israeli “war crimes”, there is no such lobby or framework to report on Hamas terrorism.

Given this background, while it may seem naively optimistic, perhaps the EGC ruling on Hamas and the EU terror list can become a trigger for the EU to undertake a major revision of its foreign policy making process. Although couched in terms of a “technical failure”, such failures are systematic and widespread. To begin repairing the system, the EEAS and other EU bodies will have to replace reliance on fringe ideological NGOs with real experts, familiar with the complexities that go beyond myths and slogans.