N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
The European Union is sidelined in the war between Israel and Hamas. Perhaps it is too much to ask to expect decisive and united EU action now that another war is breaking out in the vicinity of the old continent. After all, no geopolitical conflict brings as many divisions to the surface as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Germany, The Netherlands and some more member states from Central Europe automatically go into ‘square-behind-Israel mode’; southern EU countries, on the other hand, tend to feel more sympathy for the Palestinians. This leads to an ambiguous EU policy: there is publicly professed support for Israel, meanwhile the EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The question of some of that money may be not disappears in Hamas’ pockets has never been ‘waterproof’ responded.
While Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised to make the EU a ‘geopolitical player’ when she took office, Brussels always stiffens when it actually has to act as the world power it pretends to be. But it is true, from a military point of view, the EU does not represent anything. With the recent rise in tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, the EU waited for the Americans. When Azerbaijan took Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia, the EU remained silent; probably because the EU had just found a ‘reliable partner’ in Azerbaijan to secure gas supplies.
Apart from debating whether or not support for Israel or Gaza is appropriate , the EU could do more. Some member states have close ties to Quatar, which makes billions from gas sales to the EU. At the same time, Quatar is funding Hamas in Gaza. Brussels supports Egypt with billions, it can put pressure on Cairo to open the borders with Gaza. But no ‘world power’ EU is stiffening and failing to live up to the fine words about European values.