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Europe: Extend an Olive Branch to Palestine

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What do Palestinians expect from Europe? That the EU accepts its historical responsibilities and extends an olive branch to the peoples of Palestine.

Palestinians have always looked across the Mediterranean with anticipation. For some, Europe is the symbol of civilization. For others it represents deeply rooted historical ties. Palestine and Europe share the same Mediterranean basin, the same history and the same destiny, and Palestinians look to Europe to play a more active role in their region.

For Palestinians, Europe is a zone of prosperity where human rights are protected and justice is delivered. Europe is a peaceful realm where disputing countries meet to discuss and resolve their differences. That is why Europe should start taking its responsibilities and design a peace initiative to help solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Only if Europe can rise to the task will the fighting stop. The Europeans must call upon Israel to renounce its interest in the occupied territories, declaring an end to the occupation by dismantling their settlements and leaving Palestinians to run their lives with freedom and dignity. The Palestinians must then accept to live side-by-side with their Israeli neighbors, refraining from any future attacks on Israeli targets. European countries fought with one another for centuries in the past, but finally grasped that one should only do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is the seed of hope that we expect our European friends to disseminate in the parched soils where Moses, Jesus and Muhammed once trod.

The relationship between Europe and Palestine is historically rooted, and must continue to grow deeper and stronger. As Europe has started a partnership with the Mediterranean countries, and since many Palestinians see Europe as the creator of their problems and their suffering, I believe that Palestinians must be given the opportunity to communicate, network, and exchange with their European neighbors. Open dialogue and education should be nurtured between Palestinians and Europeans to breed understanding and tolerance among them.

We are in an era of globalization: the world has become a small place where people communicate and exchange information at the speed of thought. It means that not only countries and states, but also individuals can affect and have effects on others. Therefore, if Palestine and Europe were somehow close in the past, they no less closely connected now - as demonstrated by the debate in France about the impact of the conflict on Arab and Jewish communities.

The Palestinians are looking for a European role to help in building a peaceful, democratic and independent Palestine. We look to Europe for a real commitment to bringing peace and prosperity to the region. We hold great hope that one day, Europeans may think of our land as a holiday paradise and an investment hotspot, and no longer as a distant flashpoint where ancient disputes boil over into violence and bloodshed.