Middle East: Israel and Palestine – a Eurovision

22 May 2009
The Guardian London

Israel has long taken part in the Eurovision song contest and in European football tournaments. And what if it became a member of the European Union? Unlikely, argues Sarfraz Manzoor, but a tantalising prospect for peace in the region.

“And when I cry, I cry for both of us.” So sang the Jewish and Arab duo representing Israel at last week’s Eurovision song contest. The song, entitled There must be another way, was a classic slice of Eurocheese; one, however, that reminds British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor of a suggestion recently made to him in Ramallah : that EU membership for Israel and Palestine would dissolve “the points of contention between the two nations by absorbing them into a new European identity”.

Manzoor concedes the idea is odd. Israel and Palestine, after all, have their own distinctive identities. European citizenship, however, would ease tensions between both parties to the conflict. Israelis and Palestinians would no longer be hostage to their national space. They would realise “they have the option to move to and from their areas of residence.” For Palestinians in particular, “Restrictions on movement will be removed."

A supranational context would also make it difficult for extremists to use the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as an excuse to maintain hostilities. In addition to this, economic benefits would be undeniable. “Instead of receiving aid, (Palestine) would become part of the financial generation process.” A knock-on effect is that “Israel would find its ever-elusive security.”

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