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Abstract

The EU is Israel’s main trading partner and the single largest contributor of aid to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In the 2010s, the Union continued to deepen bilateral relations with Israel while simultaneously funding humanitarian and development endeavors in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. A major stakeholder in the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Union is more heavily involved in both Israeli and Palestinian political and economic processes than any other outside actor in the world. However, the EU has failed to produce a coherent foreign policy strategy towards this region. This research presents an empirical analysis of the inconsistencies of EU foreign policy towards Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It reconstructs EU political positions on the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and the legal status of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and compares these positions with those adopted by the International Court of Justice and the United Nations General Assembly. The analysis in this paper proves that there exists a congruence of conclusions among the International Court of Justice, the United Nations General Assembly, and the EU, and that the EU has officially upheld the tenets of international law since initially forming its stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Notwithstanding the Union's official commitments, an examination of academic and human rights sources documenting de facto EU policies reveals that these actual policies of the Union towards Israel-Palestine and the official foreign policy goals are incompatible. By scrutinizing EU policies of arming the Israeli occupation, importing settlement goods, and not imposing sanctions on Israel in the face of Israel's continuing breaches of international law, the thesis establishes that the Union has enabled rather than challenged Israeli expansionism. The thesis' findings help to identify the merits and demerits of EU peacebuilding policy and add to the growing body of literature on EU-Israel relations, EU-OPT relations, and foreign aid.

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