NEW PUBLICATION | The end of Oslo: A new European strategy on Israel-Palestine  9 Dec 2020
A one-state reality of open-ended occupation and unequal rights continues to take hold in the Israel-Palestine conflict. This deteriorating trajectory is storing up deeper conflict on the ground, posing ever greater challenges to the EU’s vision for its near neighbourhood and relations with Israel, and storing up future instability.

Amidst an accelerating negative trajectory on the ground, and an exhausted Oslo peace process, a viable two-state outcome is slipping out of reach. In the absence of two states, Israel will have to ensure equal rights for Palestinians in one democratic state.

The latest report from ECFR’s policy fellow Hugh Lovatt — The end of Oslo: A new European strategy on Israel-Palestine – looks to counter this negative trend and calls on a new ‘post-Oslo’ paradigm reset that puts deoccupation and equal rights front and centre of European strategy.  

Main findings: 

·         European policy this year saw significant wins in Israel-Palestine: helping to block Donald Trump’s ‘peace’ plan and to avoid Israel’s de jure annexation of Palestinian territory.
·         But Europe is failing to fundamentally challenge the worsening situation on the ground, which is storing up future instability and threatens European interests.
·         The Oslo process is exhausted and a viable two-state outcome is slipping out of reach.

·         Instead of its rigid focus on the Oslo peace process, the EU should craft a new peacemaking paradigm based on equality and deoccupation.
·         The absence of a two-state solution will mean Israel ensuring equal rights for Palestinians in one democratic state. The EU should also deter Israeli settlement activity and push Palestinians towards political renewal as prerequisites for a future resolution of the conflict.

As the two-state solution flounders, European policymakers are desperate to regain diplomatic momentum. For the Trump administration, the answer was to embrace inequality and open-ended occupation. Europe must take the opposite approach, by reorientating its vision towards equality and deoccupation as the basic components of a just resolution to the conflict. To do so, the EU will need to reconfigure the basis of its relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Hugh Lovatt, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations states:  

“European strategy has become stale and inflexible; breathing new life into it is not only a prerequisite for progress – but it is also eminently achievable. Europe must reclaim its historical role driving forward international policy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by focusing on equal rights for both peoples in line with international law and unequivocally rejecting open-ended occupation and apartheid as the default outcome.” 

About the author

Hugh Lovatt is a policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Since joining ECFR, Lovatt has focused extensively on EU policy towards the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), domestic Palestinian politics, and Israeli regional policy. Lovatt co-led a 2016 track-II initiative to draft an updated set of final status parameters, and has worked to advance the concept of EU “differentiation”, which was enshrined in UN Security Council resolution 2334.