The European Union countries have been the principle supporters of the Palestinians since 1948. As noted previously, Arab countries contribute only 6% of the annual cost of UNRWA, which is the UN agency that has perpetuated the Palestinian camps. Other refugees have been settled elsewhere. Only the Palestinians, serving as a perpetual “victim” of Israel’s existence, have never been resettled. Now, Egypt and Jordan, which share borders with Palestinian zones, resist any effort of accept them for settlement, as I posted on before.
Now, Europe may be losing patience with the Palestinians, as it faces its own Muslim problems.
Europe was a Middle East counterbalance – generally sympathetic to Palestinians as the weaker party, critical of an unqualified US backing of Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization had offices in Europe. France’s Navy helped Yasser Arafat escape Tripoli in 1983. Europe backed the Oslo Accords, and saw the Palestinian cause as a fight for territory and statehood.
Yet Europe’s traditional position on the Arab dispute has been quietly changing: It is gravitating closer to a US-Israeli framing of a war on terror, a “clash of civilizations,” with a subtext of concern about the rise of Islam – and away from an emphasis on core grievances of Palestinians, like the ongoing Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and “occupation.”
As Europeans witness violent anti-Israel rallies that burn cars and murder Jews who have nothing to do with Israel, they may be coming to see the serpent they have clasped to their collective breast.
Public support for Arabs is down due social tensions with Muslim immigrants. “Europe fears an Islamist threat, whether internal or external, and this has begun to change the overall views on the Israel-Palestine conflict,” says Aude Signoles of the University of La Réunion. “There is a general ‘Arab fatigue’ in Europe,” says Denis Bauchard of L’Institut français des relations internationales.
A Pew Global Attitudes poll in 2006 found that French sympathies were evenly divided (38 percent) between those sympathizing with the Palestinians and with Israel, marking a doubling of support for Israel and a 10 percent gain for Palestinians over the previous two years. In Germany, 37 percent sympathized with Israel – an increase of 13 points over 2004 and more than double those who supported the Palestinians.
This is a change and may be a sign that the Palestinians should become more realistic about their goals.