European Union Aims To Wield Greater Influence

Columnist Says European Union Leading Third Intifada
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says the Third Intifada has been started, but it is not being led by Palestinians. Rather, he contends, it is being “led by the European Union in Brussels and other opponents of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank across the globe. Regardless of origin, though, it’s becoming a real source of leverage for the Palestinians in their negotiations with Israel.”

European Union ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen publicly warned Israel that they would face increasing isolation if peace talks fail.

“With a focus on the moral aspect of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Friedman believes it possesses “much more potential to have a long-term impact because, unlike the first two, it is coinciding with the offer from the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as part of a two-state deal, to let Israeli troops stay for five years as they make a phased withdrawal from the West Bank to the 1967 lines and to then let U.S.-led NATO forces fill in any strategic void to reassure Israel. To put it differently, the Third Intifada is based on a strategy of making Israelis feel strategically secure but morally insecure,” Friedman concludes.

Recognizing the potential threat of economic sanctions or boycotts if Israel moves forward with construction of Jewish settlements, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid has examined various threat scenarios.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line Likud Party played down the risks, saying Israel “has the tools to prevent boycotts,” reports The Independent.

Steinitz, a former finance minister, told Israel Radio that any deal that endangers Israel’s security would do far more economic damage than a boycott.

United Nations Issues Report Heavily Critical Of Catholic Church
The United Nations has issued a scathing report on the handling of sex scandals by the Catholic Church. The report, however, has invited criticism as well by reaching beyond the justifiable condemnation of the actions taken to protect abusive priests. The committee waded into matters that “touch on core church teaching about life and sexual morals,” reports Businessweek.

“The committee, for example, urged the Vatican to amend its canon law to identify circumstances where access to abortion can be permitted for children, such as to save the life of a young mother. It urged the Holy See to ensure that sex education, including access to information about contraception and preventing HIV, is mandatory in Catholic schools. It called for the Holy See to use its moral authority to condemn discrimination against homosexual children or children raised by same-sex couples.”

In its response to the report, the Vatican said it does “regret to see in some points of the Concluding Observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom. The Holy See reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child, in line with the principles promoted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and according to the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine.”

What Is The Purpose Of The European Union’s Foreign Policy?
Jan Techau, a fellow with the Carnegie Foundation’s European arm, looks at plans by the EU to draft a comprehensive over the next year laying out how the EU should reply to the big strategic challenges of the twenty-first century and offers suggestions.

Although Europe will remain under the umbrella of US protection, Techau writes that “in the era of globalization, external peace is an increasingly important part of the EU’s raison d’être.”

Techau also suggests the EU focus on the East, rather than the South, when designing a plan to deal with threats from within the European region.

“The East is also home to the EU’s only potential strategic adversary of some relevance: Russia. If the EU cannot get the relationship right with Russia and the countries in the former Soviet space, there will be no sustainable peace in Europe. There are no such make-or-break players in the South.

“And the United States is less present in Eastern Europe than in North Africa and the Levant, making the EU more needed in its East than in its South.”

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