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Honesty Can Advance the Middle East Peace Process

While indiscriminate terrorist violence is targeting Israelis, violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods. The situation demands a renewed international effort to help both sides think through their options.

BRUSSELS – Too many people are dying every week in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and millions are living in fear and hopelessness. The world’s response has been characterized by too many statements and too little action. That must change. We in the European Union and the wider international community need to do more. We know that people around the world expect us to work for peace, justice, and international law everywhere. But to act successfully, we first must be honest with each other and ourselves.

Being honest means acknowledging that extremism is rising on both sides. Indiscriminate attacks and violence are taking many Israeli lives. Violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods – almost always with impunity. Moreover, Israeli military operations frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning Holy Sites is eroding. While Israelis can rely on a strong state and army, Palestinians have no such recourse. This vast inequality in the ability to control one’s destiny is visible at every roadside checkpoint. All these facts are obstacles to peace.

To be sure, different actors within Europe often react differently to events in the region. But this does not prevent the EU from acting. We have all been alarmed by recent developments, and we all share the same ultimate goal: to see a safe, secure, globally recognized state of Israel live in peace alongside a safe, secure, globally recognized state of Palestine. This solution would allow both sides to enjoy freedom, prosperity, and peaceful relations with their neighbors.

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