Sunday, November 21, 2004

Germany's Palestine?

Apropos the debate in the comments section to “Europe’s Palestine” between Ralf and Niko, in a June 2004 lecture, the text of which (in German) is available in full here, Matthias Küntzel notes: “Just two months after the start of this [the second] Intifada, in November 2000, Gerhard Schröder, in close consultation with the then French presidency of the European Council, was the first EU head of government after the failure of Camp David to travel to the Middle East and meet with Arafat…. Germany and the EU occupied a key position: since the Red-Green government took office, Germany had become the most important funder of the Palestinian Authority. In per capita terms, no other population group in the world receives more substantial German support. When, however, Chancellor Schröder visited Yasser Arafat in November 2000, he did not demand Arafat’s return to the negotiating table. On the contrary, he, in effect, gave the PLO-chief the green light for his Intifada. 'Schröder does not want to put pressure on Arafat to return to the negotiating table,' a member of the German delegation was quoted as saying, 'It is not sensible to link future development aid to the willingness to compromise of the Palestinians.' (Archiv der Gegenwart, 9 November 2000, p. 44580.) On that first of November 2000, Schröder’s visit to Arafat set a course. Using the leverage of development aid, one could have forced Arafat to make peace with Israel und thus markedly improved the conditions of life in particular of the Palestinians. Despite all lip service paid to such goals, evidently this was not wanted and instead the suicide-Intifada was given free reign. Indeed…, with the increase of the suicide attacks financial assistance to Arafat was also increased.”

Matthias Küntzel adds: “By February 2004, Gerhard Schröder was still holding to the course he set in November 2000 and he made clear to the Palestinian Authority his commitment ‘to maintain German aid at its present level and to maintain the support of the EU, of which one third is contributed by Germany, also at the current level.’” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18 February 2004).

Unfortunately, Matthias Küntzel’s lecture (titled “‘Stop the Terror’ oder ‘Stop the Wall’?”) is only available in German. It richly deserves to be translated into English. For more on the Middle East policy of the current German government, see too Matthias Küntzel’s article “Eine reife Leistung” (“A Brilliant Achievement”) – which is also available in English here.

I must say I find it somewhat curious that a ringing defense of German involvement in the Middle East should have been provoked by a post where I said not a word about contemporary Germany. But be that as it may...