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Firm in Rhetoric, Compromising in Reality: The EU in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict


EU declarations have consistently supported a norm-based solution in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, based on the rights of self-determination of the two peoples alongside a commitment to the respect for human rights and international law. These normative goals have been pursued through diplomatic and economic instruments, and most critically through the EU's contractual ties with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. An analysis of the EU's actions highlights the gap between the Union's stated goals and its conduct in practice. This article argues that the nature of this gap stems from the manner in which the Union, collectively, has chosen to deploy the instruments at its disposal, at the service of other, unstated, goals and interests. The article then turns to possible ways ahead to achieve greater credibility in the EU's role as a promoter of peace in the region. Focusing on the respect for human rights and international law rather than on the constitutional end-point in the Middle East conflict could help the Union achieve greater coherence between its rhetorical aims and interests and conduct in practice.