EU-Palestine Relations in 2020: Is Political Engagement Possible?

Research output: ThesisNon-UWA Thesis

128 Downloads (Pure)


MA by Research, University of Sydney:
Degree started: July 2019
Degree awarded: December 2020

Supervisor: Professor Peter Morgan: Director, European Studies program, University of Sydney

Examiners and grades:
Professor James Piscatori: High Distinction
Professor Amin Saikal: High Distinction

Final thesis grade: High distinction / 86%

Thesis abstract:

This dissertation considers the prospects for more direct and effective political relations between the EU and Palestine, in light of the geopolitical pragmatism proposed by new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and new High Representative Josep Borrell.

Part I of the dissertation reviews current conditions within the EU, in EU-US relations, and in Palestine and the surrounding region, which I suggest are producing new opportunities for political engagement.

A persistent tension is identified between the primarily economic and ethical terms of engagement which characterize EU-Palestine relations today, and the potential for these to be accompanied by more directly political forms of diplomacy and foreign policy.

Part II of the dissertation draws on Olivier Roy's The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East (2007) to present three conceptual elements which could frame a newly political EU-Palestine relationship. These are: inescapable nationalism, problems of political legitimacy, and the necessity of engaging with complex political actors such as Hamas and Hizbullah.

Part II presents an analysis of contemporary EU-Palestine relations via these three conceptual elements, and proposes that in all of them a productive “intermediary” quality is evident. They address aspects of political interaction which lie between long-term historical factors and current events (historical intermediacy), between local, regional and global affairs (geographical intermediacy), and between theoretical and practical considerations (methodological intermediacy).

The dissertation proposes that an intermediary approach, based on negotiation with an enlarged range of diplomatic partners, could contribute to a conceptual reorientation of EU-Palestine relations.

Such a reorientation would mean avoiding undue emphasis on crisis or “deadline” developments affecting EU foreign policy, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the prospect of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank – events which are considered briefly in the dissertation’s conclusion. Instead, taking initial steps toward direct and expanded political negotiation would demonstrate strategic but realistic EU autonomy in the region, and would be in accordance with the geopolitical pragmatism proposed by the new EU leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Sydney
  • Morgan, Peter, Supervisor, External person
Award date9 Dec 2020
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'EU-Palestine Relations in 2020: Is Political Engagement Possible?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this