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Israel finds more sympathy in Europe

Concerns about Islamist threat have influenced traditionally pro-Arab Europe's view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Understanding: French President Nicolas Sarkozy (r.) met with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Tuesday, part of a Middle East tour amid European diplomatic efforts to push a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Eric Feferberg/AP

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European Union leaders this week flanked Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as she told the world's news media, "We are all opposed to terrorism." For many observers in Europe, the moment underscored a little-noted but ongoing convergence between European and US-Israeli thinking – despite the tragedy and challenge that Gaza presents.

For decades, 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.

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