Tag Archives: Bart Hesseling

Has the European Union finally turned into an influential actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Commentary by Romana Michelon and Bart Hesseling – 18 January 2014

A Palestinian flag flies in front of a settlement known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

A Palestinian flag flies in front of a settlement known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

The European Union’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long emphasized Israel’s right to security but need to end its occupation, and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination but need to renounce terrorism. This past summer, newly-released EU guidelines on Israeli entities operating in the occupied Palestinian Territories shook this well-rehearsed mantra to its core. Preceded by the February appeal from the EU’s Heads of Mission in Jerusalem to take concrete measures against the occupation of Palestine, the Union decided to attach negative economic consequences to the continuation of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. Continue reading


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Filed under Arab Spring, English, Foreign Policy & IR, Palestine & Israel

The EU’s Blacklisting of Hezbollah: Grandstanding or Game-changer?

Commentary by Bart Hesseling – 25 July 2013

hezbOn 22 July, the European Union’s 28 foreign ministers unanimously decided to place the ‘military wing’ of the Lebanese Hezbollah on a list of what it considers terrorist organizations, to loud cheers from Washington and Tel Aviv. It is a classic case of coherent policy giving way to political expediency. Beyond the political posturing, it doesn’t help to improve the situation in the countries directly affected, Syria and Lebanon. Continue reading

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Filed under English, Foreign Policy & IR, Lebanon & Syria

This is Our Gulf: The Legacy of the Abu Musa and the Tunbs Dispute

Commentary by Bart Hesseling – 15 April 2012

Bahr-e Fars: A clear Iranian message on a football pitch in Abu Musa (source: Google Maps)

The recent visit by president Ahmadinejad of Iran to the disputed island of Abu Musa, the first by an Iranian head of state since Hashemi Rafsanjani in 1992, set off a storm of protest in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE recalled its ambassador from Tehran and even convened a special session of the GCC council of foreign ministers. The dispute over Abu Musa and the two Tunbs has become a symbol of Arab-Iranian enmity and, along with the occasional spats over the denomination of the Gulf (Arabian vs. Persian), provides a convenient way for both Iran and the Arab Gulf states to close ranks. Continue reading

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Qatar’s Trailblazing Diplomacy

Commentary by Bart Hesseling – 21 November 2011

Sheikh Hamad, right, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani at the Arab League summit, Damascus, March 2008 (© Hussein Malla/AP Images)

The incredible diplomatic activity of the tiny peninsula nation of Qatar heralds a major shift of power, as the old power brokers in the Middle East are either embroiled in revolutionary fervour or too nervous about upsetting the regional system, fragile as it is. Qatar has no such qualms and has thrown its full weight behind the forces of change. On the diplomatic front, after having pushed the Arab states into an unprecedented UN-backed coalition with NATO that proved crucial in ousting Qaddafi, Qatar is now spearheading the Arab League’s moves to put maximum pressure on the regime in Syria. Continue reading

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Filed under Arab Spring, English, Gulf states, Qatar