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The Single European Voice bleats

Posted by Helen Sunday, March 02, 2008 ,

The purpose of creating a common foreign policy for the European Union, we have been told ad nauseam, is to ensure that "Europe" speaks with one voice, thus making it a strong power in international affairs.

Setting aside the point that strength comes from being able to back your words with actions if necessary, it has never been entirely clear what the Single European Voice will say on behalf of the Single European Foreign Policy. But occasionally we find out.

There are worrying and ominous signs that there might be another flare-up in the Middle East soon. The United States and Saudi Arabia are trying to put pressure on Syria to end its interference in Lebanese affairs. It appears that Europeans were not involved in the latest plans.

In the meantime, Hezbollah, backed, as ever by Iran and Syria, is threatening "open war" on Israel and the latter is clearly preparing for something there. Let us hope that this time the Israelis will pay attention to the propaganda war, thus not losing the shooting war. Then again, if Syria does pull away from supporting Hezbollah, things might quieten down temporarily around that border.

No quiet on the Gazan border, though. Sderot, as most of us know but the media rarely discusses, is shelled on a daily basis, the targets being entirely civilian - schools, synagogues, bakeries, markets etc.

Palestinian shells have now reached Ashkelon, a pleasant city 11 miles north of Gaza. The consistent shelling of the last few days, in retaliation for the killing of five terrorists militants shows a clear intensification of attacks on the part of Hamas. Let us remember that "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza that has never prevented Hamas from arming itself and all its militias and to attack Israeli towns on a daily basis.

Let us also remember that said "humanitarian crisis" means that millions of pounds, dollars and euros pour into the coffers of this organization by way of aid. At best the money goes to various projects, which allows Hamas to spend more on rockets to fire at Sderot, Ashkelon and other places. At worst the money is appropriated directly.

The Single European Voice has finally spoken up on the subject. It has not said anything about those rocket attacks by Hamas or threats by Hezbollah. It has condemned Israel for retaliating with "disproportionate use of force". One sort of wonders what would be a proportionate use of force in response to daily shellings.

As an afterthought, the EU did bleat something about Palestinian attacks:

It also called for an immediate end to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli territory and insisted that the peace process should not be interrupted.
As it happens, the Palestinians have already suspended the peace talks because of the Israeli response to the rocket attacks, which resulted in fierce fighting in Gaza and left more than 100 Palestinian and two Israeli soldiers dead. Since the Hamas part of the Palestinians have never really engaged in those talks and the Fatah bit did so in a somewhat desultory fashion, it is not clear what difference this suspension will make.

Will the EU suspend all the cash it and its members hand over to Hamas and Hamas-controlled organizations and projects until that daily shelling ceases? I thought not. Well, in that case, there is no point in bleating when the Israelis, after putting up with those attacks for many months, decide to retaliate. Oh I forgot: the UN has condemned Israel as well.