Tag Archives: Mediterranean Union

Resolving Israel-Palestinian Conflict

This blog has supported the right of Palestinians to enter negotiations with Israel based on an agreement there will be no further expansion of settlements in order to ensure they have an opportunity to achieve a fair resolution of issues. Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu, who previously demanded pre-conditions before negotiating like acceptance of the state of Israel as being Jewish, now insists there can be no pre-conditions but both sides must accept the current situation. We now urge Abbas to call the bluff of Netanyahu and enter into negotiations even though there currently ahs been somewhat of a hold on further settlement expansion. We understand concerns of Palestinians that Israel is working to crush the rights of Muslims in East Jerusalem by destroying their homes in order to build new ones for Jewish residents.

At this point in time, Netanyahu holds trump cards in any negotiation. But, negotiation is the only card left for Abbas. Come prepared with dramatic new approaches and challenge Netanyahu to reject them. We propose:

1. Jewish settlers in the West Bank can retain five percent of the area in exchange for land elsewhere.

2. Creation of a “Marshall Plan” for the region in order to develop the Palestinian economy as well as those of Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

3. Establishment of a new Middle Eastern Peace University whose faculty would be drawn from all existing nations as well as student body.

4. A commission be established to develop fair distribution of water to all inhabitants.

5. Removal of Israel’s blockade of Gaza and establishment of an international force to supervise the border.

6. Creation of a Mediterranean Union which would include Israel.

7. Those areas of East Jerusalem which are predominantly Muslim would have local autonomy.

Mediterranean Union Still Alive

President Sarkozy of France initiated the idea of a Mediterranean Union which would link nations bordering that body of water, but the European Union has decided to rename the project, the Barcelona Process Union(UfM). The original idea was a Sarkozy end run to hold off Turkey’s entrance into the European Union which caused many nations in the region to give lukewarm support for such an effort. The UfM attempts to develop bonds of economic, political, and social relations among the various nations which border on the Mediterranean. It was hoped such cooperation could spark an economic resurgence in the region and through that means establish the basis for peace.

A major issue is the continuing conflict between Israel and other Arab nations in the region. If the UfM had a rotating president it might lead to a situation in which an Israeli was president of the group. Until that issue is resolved, it is difficult to imagine genuine cooperation among participants.

Concern For Human Rights In Mediterranean Union

President Nicolas Sarkozy has been actively selling the idea of a Mediterranean Union(MU) which would bring together nations which border on that waterway. Some critics charge the French president is merely trying to foster an end run against having Mediterranean nations like Turkey become members of the European Union. Amnesty International has raised an interesting issue concerned with the proposal supported by Sarkozy– the absence of any statement dealing with human rights. The European Union has strong guarantees requiring all its members to adhere to basic human rights, but in the proposed MU there are no guarantees which would ensure all its members must respect the basic principles of human rights.

Nicolas Berger, Director of Amnesty International’s European office, raises the question: “Has this proposal in part been created to bypass human rights obligations? The total absence of human rights provisions leave the question open. If this is the case, we are facing a dangerous precedent: it not only undermines core principles of the EU’s relations with third countries, but openly allows human rights to be sidelined for the sake of business.”

Sarkozy Helps Launch Mediterranean Union

French President Sarkozy was able to bring together a summit of European Union and Mediterranean countries in order to establish the basis of a potential Mediterranean Union(MU). Leaders from 27 EU member states and 16 Middle Eastern and North African nations met to discuss possible projects in the areas of highway construction, a solar energy program, business development ventures, and an EU-Mediterranean University. “It was an extraordinary gamble,” he said “to bring together in the same room all the countries and Europe and the Mediterranean.” Sarkozy was pleased Israel and Arab nations were in the same room talking and discussing possible joint ventures.

At this point, the MU is an idea, it is a possibility, but even that is a step forward. Prime Minister Olmert talked with President Abbas and the head of Syria sat near him. Olmert insisted Israel was close to an accord with Palestinians.

Perhaps, the idea of a MU can become a vehicle which brings together the combined talents of Israelis and Arabs to create a vibrant and economically strong Middle East. It is in the interests of the EU and wealthy oil nations for this to become a reality.

Mediterranean Union With Or Without Israel?

Several months ago President Sarkozy of France proposed formation of a Mediterranean Union which he believed would economically create a powerful force that might stimulate economic development in the region. But, Israel is part of the Mediterranean and Arab nations must now consider what to do about their political enemy. Arab nations are currently meeting to discuss the question of the Union’s formation and the role, if any, of Israel. Some Arab leaders are raising questions if they can enter such an organization prior to Israel resolving its issues with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

The formation of a Mediterranean Union including Israel would tremendously benefit the entire region. Israel has the economic expertise, a modern technological base, and products that meet world standards. If Israeli leaders could look beyond today and gaze into the future they might envision a new Mediterranean Union founded in peace, reconciliation and economic prosperity in which Israel plays a leading role.

German Chancellor Blasts French Mediterranean Ideas

German Chancellor Angela Merket came out strongly against the vision of French President Nicolas Sarkozy for creation of a Mediterranean Union. She considered his idea “very dangerous” to the future of the European Union since it would create another union, only this time it would be led by France, not Europe. In a sarcastic aside, she wondered if Germany should establish an Eastern European Union with nations like the Ukraine. Merkel was concerned that creating separate blocs split the essential core concept of a European Union in which all members shared equally in expanding the boundaries of concern for other nations. “One thing has to be clear,” she said, “Northern Europeans also share responsibility for the Mediterranean, just as the future of the borders with Russia and the Ukraine is an issue that concerns those living on the Mediterranean.”

On Wednesday, Sarkozy speaking in Algeria said he wanted France and Algeria to form the axis of a future Mediterranean Union that would stretch from Morocco to Turkey and include at least seven EU nations. One can only wonder if Sarkozy is proposing an end run around the application of Turkey for membership in the European Union, something that concerns many of its members because it would dramatically increase the number of Muslims in the Union. The Sarkozy gambit may simply be another manifestation of his desire for the limelight and going it alone in order to create controversy.