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The EU and 50 Years of Occupation: Resistant to or Complicit with Normalization?


This article focuses on the role the EU has played in the normalization of the 50-year long Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory. Has it resisted the occupation, challenging its normalization, or has it been complicit in it, thus contributing to it? To answer this question, the article proceeds in two steps. Firstly, it describes the ‘occupation’ through an inductive approach that reconstructs its structure through how it is experienced and described by key Israeli, Palestinian, and European human rights organizations active in the field, namely as a continuously expanding legal and territorial structure of domination. Secondly, it then juxtaposes the occupation so conceptualized with EU discursive and policy practices on the multilateral, bilateral, and unilateral levels. It reveals that, besides the widely noted discourse–practice gap related to the territorial structure of control, there is also a practice–discourse gap related to the legal structure of control, but which is silenced in EU discourse although partially addressed in its practice. The EU has been both complicit in and resistant to the occupation and therefore its role in the normalization of the occupation has been ambiguous.