The Historical Case for Europe to Recognize PalestineUp until the June 1967 war, Israel had generally had strong support in Europe based on political, historical, moral and legal claims to the land. Two decades earlier, most West European countries had been among the first to recognize Israel when the state was founded in 1948. That recognition is as strong as ever and almost no prominent European politician, intellectual or academic would today question Israel’s right to exist within its internationally recognized borders. During the June 1967 war, Israel tripled its size and the occupation of what the international community sees as the Palestinian territories began. The occupation has now lasted for almost 50 years, despite the fact that not a single country in the world recognizes it. The same is true for Israel’s annexations of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. As the first 20 years of the occupation, between 1967 and 1987, saw comparatively little violence, observers in Europe back then talked about a light, benign or even enlightened occupation. This talk quickly disappeared after the outbreak of the first intifada in Gaza in 1987, when then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave the Israeli security forces order to break arms and legs of the stone-throwing Palestinian youngsters, which they also did. Israel’s main dilemma was — and still is — that it wants the land, particularly the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but not the people — the Palestinians — living there. Much of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians after 1967 have been based on maneuvering between cultivating Palestinian land for military bases, civilian settlements, infrastructure, agriculture and water, while at the same time trying to renounce its responsibility for the Palestinian population, particularly in Gaza and the West Bank, slightly less so in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. This Israeli maneuvering was the logic that guided much of the peace process over the past two decades, giving the Palestinians limited self-rule in 40 percent of the West Bank, while keeping the rest for itself. Very few in Israel’s political establishment and even fewer among its population genuinely want to occupy the Palestinians and control their lives, but they have no choice as long as they want to keep the land. The opinions in Europe, both the political and popular, began to change after the 1973 war with the subsequent oil crisis. This is also when the construction of settlements first started to accelerate and a few years later, Israel got its first rightwing government under Menachem Begin. In my research about the role of the European Union (and its predecessor the EC) in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I demonstrate how the EC/EU early on adopted parts of the Palestinian narrative of the conflict. In its first official statement regarding the conflict, the EC in 1971 called for a just peace in the Middle East without even mentioning the Palestinians as a party to the conflict. Just mentioning the word “Palestinian” during this time would be regarded as a directly hostile expression against Israel. Israel had at this time a Prime Minister, Golda Meir, whose most memorable expression was that there were no Palestinians. MORE