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by Eli E. Hertz


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his upcoming meeting with President Obama, is likely to assure Obama that he is committed to achieving peace with the Palestinian Arabs of Judea and Samaria (The West Bank). But to ensure a successful implementation of any commitment, it is Netanyahu's duty to ensure, at the end of the road, the well being and safety of the people of Israel.

A good first step would be to invite all enlightened nations, Quartet and the UN included, to join in preparing the Palestinian Arab people to turn a dream into reality by adopting the European Union (EU) benchmarks set for Turkey's request to become a member of the EU - a model that will need to be implemented by the Palestinian Arabs who demand statehood.

Keep in mind the goals and the ramifications of each: The Turks' goal is membership in the European Union - a political union that the Europeans already say will have an iron-clad reversibility clause for Turkey if it fails to live up to its promises. The Palestinians' goal is sovereignty as a state - status for which there is no reversible mechanism if 'Palestine' turns into a rogue state.

For 46 years - since 1963, Turkey has knocked at Europe's door requesting membership in the EU. The Europeans, however, have been in no rush to invite a Muslim country into their midst, even if it is the most westernized and most democratic Muslim country in the Middle East. Although Turkey is already a strategic partner in NATO and some 2.5 million of its citizens are peaceful and productive immigrants/guest workers in Europe, these facts seem not to persuade the Europeans. Only in 1999, 36 years later, was Turkey accepted as a candidate, with no timeframe for actual negotiations. At the close of 2004, after five years of far-reaching Turkish constitutional and legal reform, the EU concluded that Turkey had reached a point where negotiations could even commence "under certain conditions."

Negotiations with Turkey are expected to take ten to fifteen years, and even then "the outcome is not a foregone conclusion," declared Romano Prodi, past president of the European Commission.

Turkey must 'walk the walk.' To be more precise, it must meet the EU challenge over which there is no negotiation: 'Become European' in thought and deed. The recommendation states that membership negotiations are conditional to fundamental reform not only on the declarative structural level, but also regarding realities "on the ground." Implementation must be "sustainable" and "irreversible" and reforms must be "confirmed over a longer period of time." Europeans intend to "continue to monitor" the process and examine it under a microscope every inch of the way.

The first yardstick for progress is to meet the Copenhagen Political Criteria adopted in June 1993 by the EU, which states:

"Membership criteria require that the candidate country must have achieved stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities."

Olli Rehn, the member of the European Commission responsible for 'EU Enlargement', made it clear in an address to the European Parliament that there are no 'discounts' for Turkey.

"... These criteria, the fundamental values on which the European Union is based, are not subject to negotiation" and [there will be] "a suspension mechanism in case of serious and persistent breach of democratic principles."

The fundamental freedoms Rehn cites include "women's rights, trade union rights, minority rights, and problems faced by non-Muslim religious communities" and "consolidation and broadening" of legal reforms including "alignment of law enforcement and judicial practice with the spirit of the reforms" and a host of other demands. In fact, Europe demands a complete 'makeover,' from women's rights to recycling of trash.

If this was not clear enough, Prodi told the European Parliament the breadth and tempo negotiations should take:

"We must take the time needed to make sure that all the important reforms adopted become day-to-day reality for Turkish citizens, both men and women. And we must also tell our Turkish partners clearly and calming that any breakdown in this program towards democracy, human rights, fundamental rights and the rule of law as practiced in the European Union will automatically bring negotiations to a halt."

Prodi concludes that it is imperative for Europeans to prevent Turks from "weakening the structure we have been building for over 50 years." The same sensitivity and prudence is hardly evidenced when it comes to dangers that Palestinians will weaken the structures Israel has built in the past 61 years.

Logically, the yardsticks of judging readiness should be at least equal, if not more stringent for Palestinians, a society that consciously and purposely sacrifices its own youth for political gain and tactical advantage, with a leadership that champions suicide bombers and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.

Eli E. Hertz is president of Myths and Facts, Inc. The organization's objective is to provide policymakers, national leadership, the media and the public-at-large with information and viewpoints that are founded on factual and reliable content. Contact him at

This article was submitted May 11, 2009. To review the entire study "Do Palestinians Deserve Statehood?" see:


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