|Paper 3: Israel and the Barcelona Process|
|Written by A.Tovias|
From an Israeli viewpoint, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has not yet managed to achieve the goals which were defined in Barcelona. Yet, although Israel was not expected to benefit substantially from the economic co-operation in the Barcelona framework, at least in the short run, it still feels that it is better to take part in the process rather than to ignore it and thus not to be able to influence it. Moreover, it is important for Israel to preserve this process as currently the only forum for multilateral co-operation with its neighbours.
Israel-EU relations 1991-1994
The Barcelona process and the 1995 agreement
Israel and the Barcelona Conference
A tentative conclusion
Israel-EU relations 1991-1994 s
Well before the Middle East peace process started in Madrid in the autumn of 1991, Israel tried to revise its institutional relations with the European Community, as defined the industrial Free Trade Area agreement of 1975. The reasons for this move are not difficult to understand. The westward enlargement of the Community ¾ with the entry of Spain and Portugal in 1986 ¾ had been traumatic for Israel and plans for the completion of the EC's Internal Market raised Israeli anxieties about the future relationship with Europe to new heights.
At the same time, these new negotiations with the EC would provide an opportunity to deal with other outstanding issues between it and Israel, such as the restricted access into EC markets for Israeli agricultural products and the revision of de facto and , as far as Israel was concerned, increasingly restrictive rules-of-origin which were contained in the 1975 agreement. Over the years, Israel had successfully specialized in high-tech products, whose share in total exports had been constantly increasing, whilst EC countries had been losing export competitiveness in the production of components used by the Israeli high-tech industry. For the latter it was increasingly difficult to comply with the existing rules-of-origin.
Until the Gulf War in early 1991, the EC had refused to consider Israeli requests for such renegotiation for political reasons, related to its total rejection of Israeli policies in the occupied territories, both because of Israeli settlements there and because of the intifada. After the Gulf War, Italian Foreign Minister De Michelis, who was also president of the Community’s "troika" at the time, proposed that Israel become part of the European family by entering the planned European Economic Area (EEA). This, he argued, would give Israel the economic security it needed to take bold steps towards peace. He argued that Israel should be told by the Europeans that it was not alone and be given a sense of belonging, particularly after the end of the Cold War, which had transformed Israel’s and Turkey’s former statuses as orphans of the United States. The Community also proposed, for the first time ever, that Israel should now be anchored institutionally in Europe. In short, Israel should be treated as an EFTA country rather than as a Mediterranean non-member country (MNMC). According to informed European sources, at the time, there was no dissent to this proposal from other EC foreign ministers present at the meetings where this was discussed.
De Michelis, however, linked his suggestion to progress in the peace process and to the creation of a Palestinian state. He also insisted in obtaining a role for the EC in the peace process, since he believed that the Middle East was more important for Europe than for the US. Interestingly enough, his approach was a departure from past practice in that it tried to exert pressure on Israel through the carrot rather than the stick, but it was not to prove successful. In fact, the European Commission, through Abel Matutes, the commissioner in charge of the EC's Mediterranean Policy, let it be known that the "troika’s" June 1991 declaration did not have legal status and was therefore not binding on the Commission itself.
Instead, the Commission insisted it needed a mandate to negotiate on the issue of Israel’s future relationship with Europe and rejected the concept of Israel being "anchored" in future into the EC. In its place, the Commission adopted the position of the French foreign minister, Roland Dumas, stressing that Israel could not be singled out for special treatment, given the repercussions this would have for EC relations with other MNMCs. Thereafter ¾ long before a Euro-Mediterranean Partnership was envisaged ¾ the Commission was to insist that, in the EC’s eyes, Israel was part of the Mediterranean group of countries.
It was only at the 1992 Israel-EC Co-operation Council that matters began to take a different course. The EC then spoke of ameliorating the existing agreement on the basis of article 23 in the agreement, while Israel stood by its former position of seeking "anchorage" in the EEA. It is worth noting that this was taking place only after the 1991 Madrid Conference, which officially initiated a peace process between Israel and its neighbours, had occurred. The EC also insisted on a double track-approach: Israel had first to deepen its relations with neighbours and only then could the same be done with the EC. Anchoring Israel in the EC alone, it was argued, would do a disservice to Israel itself if it also meant it being detached economically from its own region. Israel could not even be part of the EEA’s decision-shaping mechanisms, although EC relations with Israel could be "EFTA-like". Israel could not be part of the EEA because the EC could not discriminate positively on its behalf in front of other MNMCs, even if this could be justified in economic terms.
Given the EC's Commission direct opposition to Israel's EEA membership and Israel's own interpretation of the "anchorage" it desired in the EC, the government of the late Yitzakh Rabin, which had been approved by the Knesset in 1992, decided that the best approach for Israel would be to improve the 1975 agreement with respect to agriculture and rules-of-origin and to add new chapters to deal with subjects not well covered or not covered at all by the 1975 agreement. These new chapters would include topics such as rights of establishment or the supply of services. Such a procedure would automatically lead to a deepening of the relationship without a change in the ground rules.
Exploratory talks were conducted from December 1992 until summer 1993. The Commission received a formal mandate from the Council of Ministers in late December 1993. This was the EC's (now the European Union ¾ EU) response to the Oslo peace process, initiated several months before. Negotiations for a new EC-Israel agreement formally started on February 21, 1994 ¾ well before the Commission proposed the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership project in October 1994. The bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Union concluded, after seven rounds, in the signature of a new Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement on November 20, 1995, to be rendered operative one year later.
The new agreement is of unlimited duration. Apart from its economic and social provisions, the new agreement between Israel and the EU also implies the establishment of a permanent political dialogue and is designed to deepen the on-going institutionalized relationship between the two parties initiated more than three decades before. In terms of legal content and form, the agreement was a major step forward for it declared that "association" was the goal, that political dialogue would be institutionalized and that it provided a legal framework for matters ¾ such as services, research and development, and public procurement ¾ which, until then, had been uncharted territory. Formally speaking, the agreement comes very close to the agreements which the Union concluded with Central and Eastern European countries in the early 1990s.
However, politically speaking, Israel continued to be anchored in the category of the Mediterranean non-member countries which had been established more than two decades earlier. This proved to be the case despite unrelenting pressure applied by Israel for its consideration within a special "EFTA-like" category because of its own level of economic development. The EU, for its part, argued that it had its own paradigms for its relationships with non-member countries which could not be altered. This rigidity over state-to-state relationships seems odd at a time when EU member-states themselves are proposing new formulas for inter-relationships which allow for more flexibility in the construction of a unified Europe, as laid out in the Treaty of Amsterdam. The status of MNMCs remains and will remain inferior to that awarded to EFTA countries in the EEA and, until this year, on a par with the status of Eastern European countries. Now even this has changed. Enlargement negotiations for four Eastern European countries, together with Estonia and Cyprus, to join the Union started in March 1998, thus placing relations between the EU and its future members at a higher level than those with MNMCs.
In terms of content the 1995 agreement was disappointing. Despite Israel’s original hopes, the final agreement was not expected to reduce Israel's huge trade deficit with the EU. The importance of the agreement was seen as being far more political than economic in nature (1). Israel is still very far from being part of the European Single Market, as Norway and Iceland are and as, soon, the CEECs will become. The Union still refuses, for example, to discuss mutual recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications, basically for political reasons; namely to preserve the distinction between European and non-European countries. There is, however, some hope in Israel that ¾ with time ¾ the EU will realize (as it did over research and development) that it is in its own interest to incorporate Israel into the Single Market.
The Barcelona process and the 1995 agreement s
The proposal by the European Commission to call the 1995 agreement the "Euro-Mediterranean agreement" came at a very late stage of the negotiations and caught Israel by surprise. The Israeli Foreign Ministry wanted to call it an "Association Agreement", but the Union refused, saying the term was reserved for European agreements only. The final compromise led to rather a cumbersome title ¾ the "Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association"(2). As a matter of fact, the title is the only aspect of the agreement where reference is made to the Mediterranean! Nor does the text of the agreement contain any reference to the Partnership.
In any case, in Israel not much thought was given to the implications of the Commission's proposal. In fact, Israel is caught between its geographic location and its economic status. On the one hand, it knows that the EC has traditionally considered it in the context of the EU’s Mediterranean Policy. But as a country with a GNP per capita higher than that of four of the fifteen member states of the European Union, Israel sees its economic location within Europe. Indeed, the special status of Israel in economic terms was recognized by the EU itself at the Essen Council of 1994, when the conference stated:
"The European Council considers that Israel, on account of its high level of economic development, should enjoy special status in its relations with the European Union on the basis of reciprocity and common interests".
Since the 1960s Israel has tried to integrate into what was to become known as the European economic space and is nowadays called the European Economic Area. The EC had, in any case, already signed a Free Trade Area (FTA) agreement with Israel in 1975 which had become fully operational in 1989. The Partnership proposed by the Commission in 1994 contemplated the achievement of this same goal with other MNMCs for 2010, 21 years later. In any case, the 1995 Israel-EC agreement was very similar to the agreements signed in the early 1990s by the EC with the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC). It was comprehensive, including many new items, compared to the 1975 agreement, which are not found in other Euro-Mediterranean agreements. This feature prepared the ground for the subsequent negotiations for reciprocal opening of government procurement markets ¾ a development which was important to Israel in the telecommunications field ¾ and the mutual recognition of certification procedures and laboratory tests, as well as the inclusion of Israel in the EU's Research and Development Framework Programmes.
The only aspect of the agreement which maintained Israel’s status alongside the other MNMCs was agriculture. The European Union did not want to offer Israel concessions which could be later used as a precedent in negotiations between the European Union and other MNMCs competing with Israel in the same European markets. The share of agricultural exports in total exports is, however, very small and is diminishing constantly over the years. Furthermore, Israel has been making it clear, particularly since 1993, that in a future based on peace in the Middle East, it will have to open its own market to agricultural and other labour-intensive imports from other MNMCs. This will mean that such sectors in its own economy will have to contract in favour of sectors where Israel has developed a huge comparative advantage over the last decade, such as high-tech products. In any case, the mass immigration from the ex-Soviet Union in the early 1990s has contributed to the rapid transformation of the Israeli economy into a modern European-type economy. In other words, Israel is less similar today to other MNMCs ¾ less "Mediterranean", in short ¾ than it used to be only a decade ago.
This, however, underlines the problem Israel now has with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The economic basket of the Partnership is based on a North-South approach, in which the EU will allocate massive development aid to Arab MNMCs, but not to Israel, which does not need it and is not asking for it. In other words, in economic matters, Israel is convinced that it has more in common with the European side of the Partnership than with other MNMCs. Economically speaking Israel would prefer to speak of the "16" and the "11", rather than the "15" and the "12". In short, viewed from Israel, the Barcelona Declaration undermines the special economic status accorded to Israel at the December 1994 Essen Summit.
There maybe "indirect gains" for Israel in the Partnership, such as the possible participation in bidding for projects financed under the MEDA programme. More specifically, Israel could benefit from the funds allocated bilaterally through MEDA by the EU to Arab MNMCs. This represents 90 per cent of the total allocated, for Malta, Cyprus and Israel are not direct recipients. Israel will be able to bid since the projects to be financed are equally open to suppliers of all the 27 countries in the Partnership. However, according to the regulations governing the MEDA award process, it will be the Arab MNMC recipient which will decide on the supplier. This means that the recipient will be free to reject Israeli bids for whatever reasons, whether political or not. At the same time, although Israel may not be eligible to any direct aid from the EU, it is eligible for the limited amount of regional funding available. This represents about 10 per cent of the MEDA budget, but is a very small economic incentive. In theory Israel could also obtain loans from the EIB , but has decided not to do so, since it has no problems in arranging loans in international financial markets.
On the other hand, the economic component of the Barcelona Process does not address any Israeli needs not already addressed by the 1995 bilateral agreement, such as the opening of procurement markets in Europe or mutual recognition agreements. Instead, it is an economic straight-jacket, when Israel has been seeking flexibility, as is the case within the Union today. Israel considers that it should not be treated as a typical MNMC but rather as a potential OECD state located in the Eastern Mediterranean. In other words, as far as Israel is concerned, the bilateral agreement, rather than the arrangements proposed to the region under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, will continue to be the mainstay of relations with the EU. In short, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership itself has not promoted Israel's relations with the EU, unlike the situation of some Mediterranean partners, such as Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and the PLO.
Despite this, Israel has taken a positive attitude towards the modernization process which the European Union has tried to achieve in Arab MNMCs through the implementation of the Partnership, hence its support for the Barcelona Conference to launch the project. Moreover, it was very interested by the civil society aspects of the Partnership project, which would promote democratization in MNMCs. Unfortunately, Northern European states do not seem to have actively participated in many of the activities associated with this part of the project and have left it to Southern European countries to take the leading role. In any case, in the event, there proved not to be much of direct benefit for Israel. For example, projects as MEDA-Democracy which are funded by the Union are clearly not applicable to Israel. The Med-Campus programme, an horizontal co-operation program, launched originally under the so-called 1990 Renovated Mediterranean Policy was structured in such a way that Israel found it difficult to participate. The basic purpose is to contribute to the transfer and diffusion of technology and science from EU academic institutions to its partners in the Mediterranean. Yet Israel spends more money per capita in Research & Development than any of the 15 countries of the EU and thus clearly is not in need of such intellectual transfers. It would make better sense to use Israeli universities as training grounds for European and other MNMC students, but Med Campus does not provide for this possibility.
Israel and the Barcelona Conference s
Agreeing on the Declaration
From what we know of the backstage negotiations between Israel and Arab countries on the language to be used in the Declaration, it appears there were three points of discord:
the formulation of a reference to the right of peoples to self-determination,
the non proliferation of nuclear arms,
the fight against terrorism (3). Israel opposed a call for the participants to endorse the NPT and succeeded largely (4).
Another point on which there was more consensus among all parties was not to deal in the context of the Partnership with existing conflicts (Western Sahara, Cyprus, Israel-Arab conflict) and not to do anything which could unravel existing peace processes. As far as Israel is concerned, Mr. Bavly, representative of the Israeli Foreign Ministry at the Conference of Barcelona, stated openly that "...the conference is not intended to replace the peace process"(5). Israel insisted all along that there was such a process going on in the Middle East which was distinct from the proposed Barcelona Conference to become later on a process itself. Not that some other partners did not try to blur the distinction. According to Barbe (1996), attempts by Spanish Foreign Minister Solana in Barcelona to bring the representatives of Syria and Israel together were rebuffed with a clear Israeli response. The peace process was being dealt with in another forum and the mediator was a different one: the United States. "Only the United States can bring Israel and Syria together", these were the words used by Mr. Ehud Barak, the Israeli Foreign Minister at that time (6).
Some Israeli right-wingers did not like the fact that the US was not going to be represented at the Barcelona Conference, but their voice was hardly noticed, at a time when the Oslo Process was alive and well and the Labour Party was in power (7).
Israel's participation in the Barcelona process since 1995
Israel has long agreed with the EU’s basic analysis that the Mediterranean region must be stable and prosperous. It therefore initially approved the idea of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Israel, it was thought, could contribute to the Partnership, by, for example, transferring useful technologies to other MNMCs. The Partnership was seen as complementary to the multilateral track of the 1991 Madrid Conference peace-negotiating structure. At the time when the Barcelona Process was launched, Israel was happy to be able to negotiate face-to-face with Syria and Lebanon (8). The impression, two years and a half later, is that this is the only concern which is even of marginal significance for Israel, at a time that the multilateral track of the Arab-Israeli peace process (such as the Regional Economic Development Working Group) is frozen (9).
At the same time, Israel has been frustrated by the delays in the implementation of the MEDA regulation. At the beginning of this process, it seemed that the economic basket meetings would lead to some positive results. Frustration grew, however, with the realization that all progress was being measured in political terms. Israel does not accept the argument that the lack of progress in the Peace Process must "contaminate" all aspects of the Barcelona Process, as some other partners are suggesting. For instance, it does not understand why a meeting of Partnership ministers of industry on industrial co-operation in the small-and-medium-enterprise field which was due to take place in Marrakesh in October 1997 was suspended a week before the event. It did not seem normal or reasonable that the Israeli Minister of Industry and Trade, Nathan Sharansky, an ex-refusenik who has fought lifelong for human rights, could not get an entry visa from the Moroccan authorities to attend the meeting. In Israeli eyes, the "modus operandi" of the Barcelona Process has come increasingly to resemble that of the United Nations.
It is true that, to date, the EU, which finances the Partnership, has ensured that all 27 partners, including Israel, are invited to every activity and it has been prepared to move meetings due to take place in Arab countries to Europe. But in practice, Israel's partners in the Barcelona process, particularly Arab states, tend to ignore Israel. NGOs and professional organizations are more forthcoming but even there problems arise. Israel cannot direct any project and is not participating in many of them. Israel participates in some projects related to the third basket of Barcelona which deals with the cultural dialogue, but these are matters of marginal significance.
The EU has also begun to explain to Israel that its participation causes problems in the organization of the Partnership and that, in consequence, Israel should perhaps take an even lower profile in it. For instance, at a scheduled meeting on the potential for financial partnerships in London in March 1998, partner countries were to be represented at ministerial level, but Israel was asked not to send its Minister of Finance, Ya'acov Neeman. Israel did not comply with the request and the minister eventually participated in all of the meetings.
Israeli officials consider that it was the European Union which insisted on the value of the Barcelona Process as a forum, as a socialization measure leading to confidence-building through mutual discussions. Now, however, Syria is against this idea and against any move which smacks of normalization. For example, it hindered the signature of an agreement on an Egyptian-Italian initiative for the prevention of natural catastrophes, simply because Israel was involved. This leads Israel to have doubts about the value of a forum attended by Syria and Lebanon without the latter willing to communicate with Israel. After all Syria and Lebanon sit in the same room with Israel at the General Assembly of the UN! Israel argues that there is no Barcelona Process without it. The moment Israel is not included, it is into the old and failed Euro-Arab Dialogue of the 1970s, which the Arab side tried to revive after 1989, until the Gulf War finally ended it.
Furthermore, Israel will not participate in future high level meetings if they are used to pressure it over the peace process instead of concentrating on the implementation of the Barcelona programme. Israel is interested in genuine Mediterranean co-operation, particularly at the technical level, but not in interference in matters that lie outside this field. Admittedly, some Israeli officials see the Barcelona Process as limited to seminar diplomacy, but others draw a much more positive picture of what has been achieved.
Building a European sphere of influence by economic means in North Africa
The perception in Israel is that Europe is frightened by Islamic fundamentalism and that it seeks to reduce this by improving rapidly the economic situation in Northern Africa. This was put bluntly by Ehud Barak, the Israeli foreign minister at the time of the Barcelona Conference (10), when he said that the primary interest of the European Union was not the Middle East but rather the situation in the Maghreb. Israel sympathizes with the idea of the Partnership as a kind of North-South Dialogue; provided Israel is aligned with the North. Furthermore, the peace process in the Middle East has nothing to do with modernization and development in North Africa, as Mark Heller, from the Jaffee Center at the University of Tel-Aviv, pointed out in a recent EuroMeSCo meeting. It is wrong to make a conceptual link between the peace process and North/South problems. Israel, in short, has no objection per se to the idea of anchoring the Maghreb to the European economy or to the creation of a European sphere of influence there.
The issue of cumulation of origin
It is worthwhile recalling here that Israel does have economic interests in the future of the Barcelona Process. At the Barcelona Conference, the Israeli foreign minister stated that apart from possible indirect benefits of waning Islamic fundamentalism in Northern Africa, Israel's main economic gain from the Partnership would be the cumulation of rules-of-origin among MNMCs ¾ provided that it was actually implemented. This comment referred to the process of so-called diagonal cumulation which was presented by the Commission as one of the Partnership's potential innovations in the economic domain. Diagonal cumulation would give Israel greater flexibility in the application of rules-of-origin to ensure duty-free access to the EU. It would be able to buy inputs from other MNMCs so that the product later processed by Israel would be considered as Israeli-made. That would certainly promote trade between Israel, Egypt, Jordan ¾ and, when peace comes, with Syria and Lebanon ¾ in mainly labour-intensive semi-manufactured goods.
In fact Israel has been interested in the idea of cumulation for a long while, quite independently of the Barcelona Process. Being a small country, it finds it difficult to comply with the rules-of-origin imposed in its trade agreements with the EU. Israel has also been seeking cumulation with EFTA countries for a long time and, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, with CEECs as well. Israel has been interested more recently in participating in the so-called Pan-European cumulation, launched after many delays in January 1998 (and which includes, of course, CEECs) and is not particularly interested in cumulation with Maghreb countries. However, cumulation between Israel and Jordan is also seen by Israel as being a priority, not only for economic reasons, but also because it would help to consolidate peace between former enemies. Indeed, the idea of cumulation as a confidence-building measure was proposed as long ago as 1983 by this author together with two other Israeli scholars (11).
On the other hand, the present Israeli government rejects the idea of cumulation between Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy with respect to access to the EU, because it would imply there is an economic border between Israel and the PA. In fact the reverse has been the case since 1967, a situation which was formalized by the September 1994 agreement between the PA and Israel, so that the post-1967 customs union regime between the two sides was, in effect, confirmed.
As it is well known, cumulation among MNMCs is still not in the cards. Israel sees the EU’s insistence that cumulation can only be implemented after FTAs have been concluded among MNMCs themselves as an excuse for inaction. If this is so, cumulation, one of the few items in the Partnership of potential importance to Israel, will not take place until 2010! Israel would argue that, if the European Union wants to consider economic co-operation in the Middle East as a confidence-building measure, it should act correspondingly (12).
The Partnership's added value to Israel
According to Israeli officials, the benefits of the Barcelona Process for Israel in its political context are marginal, apart from its role as a possible venue with Syrian and Lebanese partners. In economic terms, the Process’s importance is also marginal. Israel does not benefit from the MEDA programme and cumulation of rules-of-origin is a long way off, given the EU's insistence that South-South FTA agreements must be signed beforehand. In fact, for Israel, the REDWG process is much more important than the economic basket of the Partnership.
If this is the case, why should Israel continue to participate in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership? Perhaps the primary reason is that, for many years, Israel was the regional pariah, and being part of the Euro-Mediterranean club is therefore important both politically and diplomatically. Moreover, as a result of the problems in the Middle East peace process, and despite of the difficulties in the Barcelona Process from the Israeli viewpoint, there is hardly any doubt that the latter is the only caucus available for possible economic and political co-operation. The multilateral Middle East negotiations are currently frozen, there are no new MENA-type conferences down the road and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is now the only multilateral framework in which Israel and its neighbours, especially Syria and Lebanon, participate together.
Secondly, Israel cannot completely ignore the security dimension of the Barcelona Process. Although there is almost no military dimension in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the co-operation implicit in the framework of the political basket may strengthen the planning and implementation of confidence-building measures which will also benefit Israel. Third, although Israel does not benefit directly from the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, co-operation in many economic domains is facilitated because of this Euro-Mediterranean umbrella provided by the EU. The "Med-partenariat" project is a good example. In the current situation in the Middle East, direct contacts between Israeli and Arab businessmen are problematic and, therefore, rare. The Med-partenariat meetings have managed to gather Israeli and Arab businessmen together, since, for the latter, taking part in such meetings is not considered a direct link with Israel. The water issue is another example. Although this issue is highly sensitive in the Middle East, the parties manage to co-operate under the Barcelona umbrella, using the EU as a credible facilitator.
Fourthly, the Barcelona Process assists Israel in coping with its multiple identities ¾ as a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern country with very strong affiliations to Europe. Since the beginning of the Middle East peace process, Israel has had to get used to the idea of regional co-operation with its neighbours. Even without obvious signs that a "New Middle East" is in the offing, it is clear to Israeli policy-makers that regional co-operation is unavoidable, despite the fact that the short term benefits of such a process are relatively small. Nevertheless, Israel has no intention of being absorbed into the hydra of regional co-operation, since it has a tradition of very close security co-operation with the US and a unique scheme of economic co-operation with the EU, which it strives to deepen. In a way, Israel, being a Western democratic country in the Middle East, might face a dilemma in the future as to whether to try to strengthen its links with its neighbours or its links with Europe. Strengthening its relations with Europe may be seen by its neighbours as a sign of unwillingness to be a part of the Middle East. Strengthening its relations with its neighbors (when possible) would not bring economic benefits equal to the benefits of co-operation with the EU. The Euro-Mediterranean partnership assists Israel in solving the dilemma, by creating a framework for co-operation, both with Europe and with its neighbours in the region.
Fifthly, Israel wants a voice in the Euro-Mediterranean process in order to promote regional co-operation and security. Co-operation in the context of the security basket, regional benefits from co-operation in the framework of the economic basket and the promotion of democracy and contacts with civil society in the context of the social and cultural basket are clearly a major objective for Israel. In addition, Israel itself could make a significant contribution to regional co-operation and it is important for her to take part in the Barcelona Process on those grounds alone.
A tentative conclusion
From an Israeli viewpoint, therefore, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has not yet managed to achieve the goals which were defined in Barcelona two-and-a-half years ago. Yet, although Israel was not expected to benefit substantially from the economic co-operation in the Barcelona framework, at least in the short run, it still feels that it is better to take part in the process rather than to ignore it and thus not to be able to influence it. Moreover, it is important for Israel to preserve this process as currently the only forum for multilateral co-operation with its neighbours. This may not only be beneficial, but may also give it the opportunity to co-operate successfully and to achieve some synergy, both with Europe and with its neighbours. Moreover, there is no doubt that Israel considers the Barcelona Process as an important engine for Euro-Mediterranean co-operation, especially if the re-launch of the Middle East peace process were to boost this co-operation to the benefit of all parties concerned.
(1) Jerusalem Post, November 21, 1995
(2) See Chokron (1996), page 181
(3) Barbe (1996), page38
(4) Jerusalem Post, November 28, 1995
(5) Jerusalem Post, November 27, 1995
(6) And according to unofficial sources, Syria also tried to use the Barcelona Process to apply pressure on Israel, to no avail.
(7) See, e.g. Jerusalem Post, October 13, 1995, where Moshe Zak argued that the issue of the Non Proliferation Treaty will be raised again, so that Israel will be put under pressure once again, and that the only purpose of the Conference will be to increase the influence of Europe over the region.
(8) These two countries had refused to take part in the multilateral track of peace negotiations.
(9) Israel was very pleased with the excellent job done by the European Union in REDWG since 1992 until its paralysis. The European Union organized data collection, prepared feasibility studies, financed research, manned a Secretariat in Amman, and has so far invested in REDWG up to $43 million.
(10) Jerusalem Post, December 1st, 1995
(11) See Arad et al. (1983)
(12) See, e.g. Jerusalem Post, August 3, 1995, where Zohar Peri, of the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade is quoted to have said in a conference: "The Europeans are strong when it comes to politics and declarations, however when there is a concrete opportunity to do something and help along, they shy away."
Alfred Tovias: Researcher, Leonard Davis Institute of International Relations at Jerusalem