Palestine and Israel should be let into EU, says author

EU should consider letting them in if both sides agree on peace, says AB Yehoshua

A main signatory of the Israeli petition calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state said Europeans should consider admitting Palestine and Israel into the European Union if both sides settle on a stable peace agreement.

Israeli writer AB Yehoshua joined fellow authors Amos Oz and David Grossman on a petition, signed by over 900 Israelis, sent to Dáil Éireann earlier this week calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

The Dáil agreed on Wednesday night to officially recognise the state of Palestine and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. The Irish Government joins politicians in Britain, France and Spain who have passed similar motions calling on their governments to follow Sweden, which on October 30th became the first western EU member to recognise a Palestinian state.

Mr Yehoshua said he hopes the petition will "hasten the peace process" and encourage European nations to call for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict.


“We thought the European community could encourage the Palestinians to go back into negotiations,” Mr Yehoshua said. “We will not let them go into total despair . . . without any help from the United States to push the two sides.”

He says the ongoing occupation in the West Bank will only lead to “catastrophe” and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and complete demilitarisation is the only viable solution.

“This petition has been signed by intellectuals, writers, officers in the army: a list of meaningful people. We want to show [Palestinians]; don’t despair, don’t take the way of violence. You have European support so go and try to come to a conclusion.”

Mr Yehoshua hopes for a change of leader in Israel's general election next year. "I pray with all my heart that Benjamin Netanyahu will lose. A momentum is building up in Israel that he will go. I feel people are really fed up with him. The election campaign has started and there are all good signs there will be a centre-left block."

He believes a European voice could be key to convincing both Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations.

“I would suggest the European community say to Israel and Palestine: if you come to the solution of two states and a peace agreement, then you will be admitted into the European Union. The two-state solution is a provision recognised by all the world, it is the only solution possible.”

Irish aid agency Trócaire highlighted the significance of the Israeli petition and called on the Irish Government to move beyond Wednesday’s first “symbolic step”.

It said the petition sends “a powerful message and highlights that many Israelis support action for justice and human rights for Palestinians”, a Trócaire spokesman said.

"The Government should now act on that call so that Ireland can play a positive role in defending human rights and building a just and lasting peace in the region."

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast