Analysis: Abstainers envision themselves as 'middle men'

Monday, December 3, 2012
Chad Groening (

A scholar and expert on European policy feels it's unfortunate that countries like Great Britain and Germany opted to abstain from voting on the Palestinian state resolution last week at the United Nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his cabinet will travel to Germany this week -- after Germany joined Britain and several other Western nations in abstaining on a U.N. vote to recognize a Palestinian state. Israel, the United States, Canada and a handful of other countries voted against the resolution; more than 130 voted in favor.

Germany is traditionally one of Israel's staunchest allies in Europe. It abstained because it feared the Palestinians' move could further harden positions in the stalled Middle East peace process, but stopped short of voting "no" to their call for recognition.


Brett Schaefer is a fellow at the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation. He says countries like Germany and Britain do not want to choose sides.

"The Europeans see themselves as sort of 'middle men' in trying to negotiate this process," he explains. "The Europeans envision themselves as trying to be honest brokers or negotiators in trying to mediate the peace. Unfortunately, I think they're misreading the situation."

Schaefer believes the vote last week will only encourage the Palestinians to take more rash actions.

"[They will] try and isolate Israel in terms of perhaps inviting the International Criminal Court to extend its jurisdiction there," he predicts. "And perhaps they would also be emboldened to encourage more terrorist acts such as those we saw occurring in the rocket strikes out of Gaza earlier this month."

Schaefer thinks it is very unfortunate that the vote took place.

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