In the name of peace, Israelis and Palestinians should become European
Membership in the EU would be a win-win-win.
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In fact, the dual identity of a supranational entity comprised of peaceful national states holds the answer for both sides' most profound concerns. For Israelis, EU membership offers physical security and permanent legitimacy. For Palestinians, membership means a territorial settlement, including a return, of sorts, of their lands through the new joint European source of security and authority over them.Skip to next paragraph
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Such an arrangement also holds significant benefits for Europe. It would contribute to political stability on its eastern and southern flank. If successful, it might even open a path for EU members to certain North African states, thus limiting the frustrations of millions of would-be immigrants to leave their instable region and go to Europe.
If European capital moves to areas of abundant nearby labor, labor has less reason to migrate to areas of capital abundance. Perhaps more important, it will expand the geographical borders of Europe, as well as the confines of its current identity, in a manner that will make the conversation with Turkey far easier.
Of course, there will be challenges. Israelis are haunted by the potential flood of Palestinian refugees from the open borders that Europe espouses (though the Schengen agreement has been applied differentially). Palestinians are still angered by the result of European colonialism, and Europeans may not want to proceed beyond admitting the nearby Island of Cyprus. Europe might be hesitate to broker such a deal, but the possibility of their succeeding with a Palestinian settlement, which had eluded the US for 40 years, would be a strong incentive to proceed. All these are weighty issues, but solvable ones.
The possibility of a day in which the descendants of the ancient foes – Christendom, Islamic civilization and Judaism – come together to resolve the century-long conflict over the Holy Land, finally acknowledging their common ancestor, Abraham, is not far afield. By using entrance to the European Union as an incentive for peace, Europe would not only free the region from a seriously destabilizing quarrel, but may also finally put to rest a millennia-long rivalry.
• Richard N. Rosecrance is a professor at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center and was a member of the policy Planning Council at the Department of State. Ehud Eiran is a research fellow at the Belfer Center and served in the prime minister's office in Israel.