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On Europe's foreign agenda: how to handle Israel

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“Europeans have, so far, not developed a narrative or tools for managing their Israeli relations,” says Daniel Levy, the director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London. “But I think Europe can have a very significant, bordering on game-changing, role, in reframing cost-benefit calculations for Israelis.”

Surprise abstentions

When the vote in the UN came up at the end of November to upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organization’s status to a nonmember state, one of the biggest surprises came not from the outcome itself, which was successful for Palestinians, but from whom Israel did not find at its side. “Yes” votes included France, Italy, and Spain, while some of Israel’s strongest allies including Great Britain and even Germany abstained.

A day later, when Israel said it would go ahead with plans for 3,000 homes, including in a controversial settlement known as E1. Several European governments, including those of France and Britain, summoned their Israeli ambassadors and threatened to recall them.

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