Considerable research was conducted on the EU’s role in Palestine, specifically with respect to the enhancement of democracy and development and the contribution to peacemaking and peaceful coexistence. Democracy and peace are inseparable and interdependent. The research looked into the importance of the Palestinian question for the EU.
It also addressed Europe’s security and instability concerns specifically in regard to the Middle East since stability is a prerequisite for development and prosperity in the region.
The project demonstrated the following:
The EU’s support for democracy and development in Palestine on account of its economic interest in building a stable region allowing development of free markets, investments and trade.
The political and security concerns prompting the EU to curtail the flow of illegal immigrants aspiring to improve their living conditions and to avoid political disorder.
As to development, the EU is the biggest contributor to the Palestinian Authority and its financial assistance funds the public sector employees, the police and security forces, development projects for local authorities (municipalities and village councils), hospitals and medical equipment, etc.
The EU supports citizen participation to strengthen civil society and promote democratic norms, inter alia by providing technical assistance and support for free and independent elections, and civic awareness programmes, including those with special emphasis on women and strengthening parliamentary exchanges and independent media. As a rule, democracy, freedom, the rule of law, economic development, security and political reforms, empowerment of women, and social justice have been on the agenda of the EU’s foreign policy towards Palestinians since the signing of the Oslo Accords.
It is suspected that the EU’s financial support of the Palestinian Authority and in some measure Palestinian non-governmental organizations is administered corruptly, involving favouritism and a lack of transparency and accountability. This suspicion has dented the credibility of the Palestinian Authority and the NGOs concerned in the eyes of ordinary citizens. Accordingly, the impact of the EU’s financial support on ordinary Palestinian people, not on the elite, in terms of any democratic transformation of society is still limited since it is not based on sound governmental and civil society institutions able to persuade ordinary citizens to accept the idea of democracy without accountability and social justice.
16 February 2011