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Monday, November 8, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Report: EU leaders pushing U.S. away from Israel 'and closer to the Arabs'

WASHINGTON — U.S. policy toward Israel has been increasingly influenced by the hostility of the European Union, a report said.


A report by a leading analyst said the EU has become the most influential lobby in the United States regarding Israel. Steven Rosen, a director at the Middle East Forum, said EU leaders were pushing Washington away from Israel and toward the Arab world.

"European leaders are the most effective external force urging the U.S. government to move away from Israel and closer to the Arabs," the report, titled "The Arab Lobby: The European Component," said.

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Rosen, a former senior lobbyist with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said Arab countries have used Europe to pressure Washington to weaken the U.S. relationship with Israel. He said successive U.S. administrations have regarded Europe as vital for the world economy, NATO as well as American dominance in the Middle East.

"Europe is not hostile to Israel on every issue, and not every European intervention with U.S. officials is meant to move U.S. policy in the Arab direction," the report, published in the Middle East Quarterly," said. "But, on the whole, the Arab road to Washington runs through Paris, London, and Berlin."

Rosen said the Europeans have been far more effective than the Arab-American lobby. The report also played down the so-called "petrodollar lobby," led by Saudi Arabia, in reducing U.S. policy toward Israel.

"The strongest external force pressuring the U.S. government to distance itself from Israel is not the Arab-American organizations, the Arab embassies, the oil companies, or the petrodollar lobby," the report said. "Rather, it is the Europeans, especially the British, French, and Germans, that are the most influential Arab lobby to the U.S. government. The Arabs consider Europe to be the soft underbelly of the U.S. alliance with Israel and the best way to drive a wedge between the two historic allies."

Rosen said Britain, France and Germany wield the greatest influence over Washington's foreign policy establishment. They said the leaders of the three EU states, which have threatened to embark on an independent policy, have easier access to the president and his senior aides than either Arabs or Israelis.

The EU states were said to have been pressing Washington to engage with Hamas and Hizbullah, force Israeli concessions to the PA and oppose Jewish construction in the West Bank and most of Jerusalem. The report said the EU has been working intensively behind the scenes to pressure Israel to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank.

"One of the things the Europeans want from Washington is intensified pressure on Jerusalem to make concessions in peace negotiations, in order to get an agreement with the Palestinians," the report said. "Europeans like the idea of deadlines, international conferences, verbal and economic pressure on Israel, and other devices, to dislodge the Israeli government from what they tend to see as its 'intransigence.'"

In 1991, the report said, then-British Prime Minister John Major scuttled an Israeli-U.S. deal that would have enabled $10 billion worth of American loan guarantees to the Jewish state. Major was said to have changed the mind of President George Bush, who then asked Congress to delay the loan guarantees.

"Assistant secretaries, office directors, and senior advisers give special weight to the opinions of their French, German, and British counterparts and spend more time with them than they do with the Arabs," the report said. "These Europeans also have easy access to members of Congress and their senior staffs."

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