Just one example of a diplomat unworthy of the role

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  /  July 27, 2023

The [Dutch] EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process [sic], Sven Koopmans, is just one blatant example of why Israel fears nothing — and has nothing to fear — from international diplomats. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Koopmans’ rhetoric of hope, imagination and positivity stands in stark contrast to the reality of Israel’s colonial expansion across occupied Palestine.

While many diplomats hold Israel’s narrative supreme, Koopmans chose an alternative tactic that allows Israel’s narrative to thrive within his ambiguity. Dissociating from his diplomatic role, Koopmans described himself as coming from a privileged background and having no understanding of or expertise on colonialism: “I am this guy from Amsterdam. I was very lucky I grew up in a very safe environment, there was no conflict around me.” Surely, though, privilege in such a position would have allowed Koopmans time to boost his expertise, but he insisted that he has none specific to the role he has to deal with Israeli colonialism. “I was in the private sector. I was in politics, and I am certainly not an expert on here [Israel]. I have been involved in quite a few peace processes, some worked, some didn’t,” he told The Jerusalem Post. Is this the sort of diplomat that the Palestinians and the rest of us are supposed to trust ?

According to Koopmans, the EU is “building” on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. By now, the Abraham Accords are also a predominant framework that the international community has accepted, pitting one against the other. While the Arab Peace Initiative required Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 armistice line and the two-state compromise to materialize, the Abraham Accords focus on normalization of relations with Israel without preconditions, thus paving the way for the complete colonization of Palestine. Koopmans’ feedback on this farce was simply to have Israel’s full integration in the region while “solving the Palestinian issue,” but he offered no plan for the latter. Presumably, the disappearance of the Palestinians is how Koopmans and the EU envisage a solution. Israel, of course, will be only too happy to oblige.

Contradictions abounded in the Koopmans interview. “If everyone gives their vision [of peace], and I am sure they will be incompatible visions, then we can start talking about how to get there. This may sound very vague and I accept that. But I am being very concrete,” he said. There is not a single political strategy here; this works for Israel’s benefit, of course, particularly as the EU special representative later equated violence with Palestinians.

“We have to create some hope, particularly among the Palestinians,” explained Koopmans. “Otherwise, you will always have people who do turn violent.” This implies that while Israel’s state and settler violence continues unabated and is legitimized by the international community, genuinely legitimate Palestinian anti-colonial resistance is dismissed as gratuitous violence.

“We all have an obligation as non-desperate people who try to do good things to show that there is something to live for,” the EU representative declared. Who are these “non-desperate people” ? Diplomats who travel to the colonized and occupied Palestinian territories for photoshoots and meaningless statements? Moreover, who are the desperate people? To speak with such detachment about a population that has been colonized for decades speaks volumes about the absence of any political integrity in someone who is supposed to be a senior EU official. He has just one job to do: he is obliged to work towards decolonization and for Palestinians to achieve territorial and political liberation. Vague statements should be left for the non-discerning. Or was Koopmans’ chat with the Israeli newspaper his way of telling us that he is a diplomat who is both non-discerning and unworthy of the role ?

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America