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