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#Israel - 'There is a thin line between aspiration and delusion'

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All of us seek to encourage aspiration, but we also regard it as a duty to tell others that they are being deluded, writes Rabbi Menachem Margolin (pictured).

And yet nobody in the international community is willing to have this conversation with the Palestinian Leadership.

What is this delusion? It is the “all or nothing” Palestinian demands for peace.

Israelis want peace. But there is zero chance of successful negotiations with a bar set too high for Israel to accept.

The bar is a return to pre- 67 borders and the ‘right of return’.

It is time to be blunt. Nobody knows better than Israel what its security needs are. Israel has made it clear that 67 borders are not defendable and would pose an existential threat to the country and its citizens. In short, it’s not going to happen.

Israel may be a young state but it has a long memory. Those who ask it to compromise its borders and security are many of the same voices who left her on her own during wars when her needs were greatest. It will not compromise security for promises and words.

On the ‘right to return’ the bluntness must continue. The Palestinians are not only demanding a smaller Israeli State, and a Palestinian state free of Jews, but for the absorption of millions of Palestinians into Israel.

In short, Israel would simply cease to be a Jewish State – the world’s only one. It’s not going to happen.

Let’s keep it even more simple: A future Palestinian State can have the luxury of malleable borders, Israel cannot.

This is the reality. The Palestinians demands are not credible or achievable. And yet the international community continues to pay lip-service to their delusion.

This is a dereliction of duty. We need to rip up the current playbook that the international community is sticking to. It is a playbook that has not advanced the prospects of peace by a single millimetre. It enables Palestinian stasis. It removes any motivation for them to move forwards. It keeps them in their comfort zone of perpetual grievance.

The Trump plan on the other hand represents the first real attempt by any negotiators to understand and put Israeli security as the starting position and build from there. Previous attempts have always made this an afterthought.

The plan also offers Palestinians a real pathway to statehood, underpinned with a 50 billion investment in infrastructure and state-building – around a third, in today’s money – of the entire Marshall plan budget that was given to 16 countries.

The Palestinians rejected it.

Why? The official line is because of annexation, and because they lost trust in Trump.

Let’s take annexation first. In the past, and most recently in Gaza, but also including the return of Sinai and other territory, Israel has shown its willingness to trade land for Peace as long as it can safeguard its security. And there is no reason to believe that this would not be the case again. Annexation does not represent a final settling of borders. It can represent an opportunity for Palestinians to get back round the table, even if they are historically averse to doing so.

Which brings us to the issue of trust. The Peace process to date is a litany of failure to budge on the Palestinian side, even after significant and often painful moves by Israel, such as the withdrawal from territories that we just touched upon.

Their reaction to this plan is more of the same. The refusal to Trump is the same refusal given to Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama. The same refusal of 48, 67, 73, in the 80’s, 90’s, and OO’s. The terms of reference only change.

Which takes us back to where we started. Aspiration and delusion. A Palestinian state is an aspiration. 67 lines and the right to return is delusion. Annexation is not a final settling of borders, but can be part of negotiations.


It is time to get serious. To get real. To disavow delusion and face reality.

If we fail to do this, we will never get the Palestinians back around the negotiating table, allowing them to perpetuate ad-infinitum the suffering of the people that they represent.

And It’s time for the international community to finally choose between the two and get things moving again.

Rabbi Menachem is the chairman of the European Jewish Association, one of Europe's largest and most significant advocacy groups representing Jewish communities across the continent. The EJA is based in Brussels, Belgium.

Economy

Sustainable transport: EU funds clean buses, electric charging infrastructure and more in France, Germany, Italy and Spain

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Following the EU's investment of €2.2 billion in 140 key transport projects to jump-start the green recovery, as announced in July, the EU is contributing additional €54 million to five projects that aim at delivering safer and greener transport services. Among the selection are projects deploying cleaner busses with charging infrastructure in Paris and Barcelona. The projects also involve constructing 255 new electric charging stations on Italian roads, and installing ERTMS, the European Rail Traffic Management System on 238 rail vehicles in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

The projects will be supported through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU's financial mechanism supporting transport infrastructure, and further contribute to decarbonizing transport as set out in the European Green Deal. These projects were selected through the CEF Blending Facility, which allows the leveraging of additional private financing for the projects, in addition to the EU's support. In total, CEF has now supported 932 projects, with €23.1bn in total. You can find more details on today's five new selected projects here.

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Defence

Security Union: EU law on combatting terrorism led to stronger criminal justice rules against terrorism and more rights for victims

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On 30 October, the Commission adopted a report assessing the measures that member states have taken to comply with the EU rules on combating terrorism (Directive 2017/541). This Directive is the main criminal justice instrument at EU level to counter terrorism. It sets minimum standards for defining terrorist and terrorism-related offences and for sanctions, while also giving victims of terrorism rights to protection, support and assistance.

The report concludes that the transposition of the Directive into national law helped strengthen member states' criminal justice approach to terrorism and the rights afforded to victims of terrorism. While the measures taken by member states to comply with the Directive are overall satisfactory, there are however gaps that are a cause for concern.

For example, not all member states criminalize in their national law all the offences listed in the Directive as terrorist offences. In addition, there are deficiencies in the measures that member states have taken to criminalize travel for terrorism purposes and the financing of terrorism, as well as to support victims.

The Commission will continue to support member states in working towards full and correct transposition of the Directive. Where necessary, the Commission will make use of its powers under the Treaties through infringement procedures. The report will now be presented to the European Parliament and the Council.

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EU

European Union joins world leaders in committing to reverse nature loss by 2030 at UN Biodiversity Summit

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On 30 September, President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) represented the EU at the UN Biodiversity Summit in New York which brings together world leaders to step up global actions for nature and confirm their determination in agreeing a new ambitious global biodiversity framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, planned for 2021.

Prior to the summit, President von der Leyen, together with more than 70 heads of state and government endorsed the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, committing to ten decisive actions to address the nature emergency. The President pledged to put nature and the climate at the heart of the EU's recovery plan, committing to tackle the interdependent climate and biodiversity crisis, deforestation, ecosystem degradation and pollution, and move to sustainable production and consumption.

President von der Leyen said: “Nature helps us in the fight against climate change. But it is also our ally in securing prosperity, combating poverty, hunger and inequalities, and is essential to prevent future zoonotic pandemics. We need to act now and bring nature back into our lives. This is the moment for world leaders to join hands and the EU is ready to lead the way. The European Green Deal is our vision and roadmap. We call on all to join this collective effort to create a common movement of change, to make the recovery green and to protect and restore our planet - the only home we have.”

The EU Biodiversity Strategy adopted by the European Commission in May 2020 outlines an ambitious agenda for the EU internally, but also globally. It reaffirms the EU's determination to lead by example in tackling the global biodiversity crisis and in developing an ambitious new UN Global Biodiversity Framework at the 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference.

This includes overarching long-term goals for biodiversity so that by 2050 the world's ecosystems are restored, resilient, and adequately protected; ambitious global 2030 targets in line with the EU's proposed commitments; and improved means of implementation in areas such as finance, capacity, research, know-how and technology.

Ahead of the COP 15, the European Commission also launched the global coalition United for #Biodiversity, calling on all national parks, aquariums, botanic gardens, zoos, research centres, science and natural history museums, to join forces and raise their voice about the nature crisis.

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