Securitizing Peace: The EU’s Aiding and Abetting Authoritarianism

  • Alaa Tartir
Part of the Middle East Today book series (MIET)


Since the Oslo Accords came into force in 1993, the European Union (EU) and its individual member-states have invested billions of Euros, with a view to establishing the basis for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. As Israel’s colonization of the Palestinian West Bank has progressed, Palestinian statehood has become little more than a myth. As the state-building process has atrophied, securitization has found a renewed impetus, being elevated at the expense of initiatives that seek to promote democratization. This chapter argues that, far from being a neutral process grounded within the building of capacities, Security Sector Reform (SSR) has strengthened the foundations of Palestinian authoritarianism. In focusing upon the development of the EU’s police mission in the West Bank (EUPOL COPPS), this chapter argues that EU-sponsored “reform” has directly contributed to the “professionalization” of Palestinian authoritarianism. The chapter therefore suggests that the EU has consistently failed to acknowledge the political implications that extend from its technical mandate and interventions. The EU has become, to the extent that its interventions extend Israel’s colonial project, part of the problem. In concluding, the chapter offers an assessment of the decade-long EUPOL COPPS (The European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories) commitment, with a view to developing key lessons and recommendations that can inform future EU interventions.


  1. Abbas, Mahmoud, and Walid Al-Amri. 2006. “Mahmoud Abbas: Security Chaos and Palestinian Elections” [interview in Arabic]. Al Jazeera, January 17.
  2. Agha, Hussein, and Ahmad Khalidi. 2005. A Framework for a Palestinian National Security Doctrine. London: Chatham House.Google Scholar
  3. Amnesty International. 2013. “‘Shut Up We Are the Police’: Use of Excessive Force by Palestinian Authority in the Occupied West Bank.” Amnesty International Briefing, September 23.
  4. Amnesty International. 2017. “State of Palestine: Alarming attack on Freedom of Expression.” Amnesty International Public Statement, August 23.
  5. Amrov, Sabrien, and Alaa Tartir. 2014a. “After Gaza, What Price Palestine’s Security Sector?” Al-Shabaka, October 8.
  6. Amrov, Sabrien, and Alaa Tartir. 2014b. “Subcontracting Repression in the West Bank and Gaza,” New York Times, November 26.
  7. Balfour, Rosa, Francesca Fabbri, and Richard Youngs. 2016. “Report on Democracy Assistance from the European Union to the Middle East and North Africa.” EUSpring Report.
  8. Bicchi, Frederica, and Benedetta Voltolini. 2017. “Europe, the Green Line and the Issue of the Israeli-Palestinian Border: Closing the Gap Between Discourse and Practice?” Geopolitics 23 (1): 124–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bouris, Dimitris. 2012. “The European Union’s Role in the Palestinian Territories: State-Building Through Security Sector Reform?” European Security 21 (2): 257–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bouris, Dimitris. 2014. The European Union and Occupied Palestinian Territories: State-Building Without a State. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bouris, Dimitris, and Daniela Huber. 2017. “Imposing Middle East Peace: Why EU Member States Should Recognise Palestine.” Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) Commentaries 17, November 17.
  12. Bouris, Dimitris, and Stuart Reigeluth. 2012. “Introducing the Rule of Law in Security Sector Reform: European Union Policies in the Palestinian Territories.” Hague Journal on the Rule of Law 4 (1): 176–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brynen, Rex. 1995. “The Neopatrimonial Dimension of Palestinian Politics.” Journal of Palestine Studies 25 (1): 23–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cammett, Melani, Ishac Diwan, Alan Richards, and John Waterbury, eds. 2015. A Political Economy of the Middle East. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dajani, Omar, and Hugh Lovatt. 2017. “Rethinking Oslo: How Europe Can Promote Peace in Israel-Palestine.” European Council on Foreign Relations Policy Brief, July.
  16. Dana, Tariq. 2014. “The Beginning of the End of Palestinian Security Coordination with Israel?” Jadaliyya, July 4.…c.
  17. Dana, Tariq. 2015. “Corruption in Palestine: A Self-Enforcing System.” Al-Shabaka, August 18.
  18. DCAF. 2016. “Securing Gaza: Challenges to Reunifying the Palestinian Security and Justice Sectors.” The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). Unpublished report, Geneva.Google Scholar
  19. Ejdus, Filip, and Alaa Tartir. 2017. “Policing Palestine.” Sada Middle East Analysis. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 15.
  20. El-Din, Amr Nasr. 2017. EU Security Missions and the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. El Kurd, Dana. 2017. “Mechanisms of Co-optation in the Palestinian Territories: Neutralizing Independent Civil Society.” Middle East Institute, February 28.
  22. Friedrich, Roland, and Arnold Luethold, eds. 2007. Entry-Points to Palestinian Security Sector Reform. Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).Google Scholar
  23. Hijazi, Saleh, and Hugh Lovatt. 2017a. “Issa Amro and the EU’s Palestinian Authority Problem.” European Council on Foreign Relations Commentary, September 7.
  24. Hijazi, Saleh, and Hugh Lovatt. 2017b. “Europe and the Palestinian Authority’s Authoritarian Drift.” European Council on Foreign Relations Commentary, April 20.
  25. Hilal, Jamil, and Mushtaq Husain Khan. 2004. “State Formation Under the PA: Potential Outcomes and Their Viability.” In State Formation in Palestine: Viability and Governance during a Social Transformation, edited by M. Khan, G. Giacaman, and I. Amundsen, 64–119. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Human Rights Watch. 2011. “No News Is Good News: Abuses Against Journalists by Palestinian Security Forces.”, April 6.
  27. Human Rights Watch. 2012. “Palestinian Authority: Hold Police Accountable for Ramallah Beatings: Donors Should Reevaluate Support for Palestinian Security Forces.”, August 27.
  28. Human Rights Watch. 2014. “Palestine: No Action in Assault by Police,”, May 19.
  29. International Crisis Group. 2008. “Ruling Palestine II: The West Bank Model?” International Crisis Group Middle East Report No. 79, July 17.
  30. International Crisis Group. 2010. “Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation.” International Crisis Group Middle East Report No. 98, September 7.
  31. Işleyen, Beste. 2017. “Building Capacities, Exerting Power: The European Union Police Mission in the Palestinian Authority.” Mediterranean Politics 23 (3): 321–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Khalil, Amir. 2017. “To What Extent Does the European Union Promote Democracy Effectively in the Occupied Palestinian Territories?” Arab Reform Initiative, Arab Research Support Programme II, October.
  33. Knudsen, Are John, and Alaa Tartir. 2017. “Country Evaluation Brief: Palestine.” Chr. Michelsen Institute & Norad.
  34. Kristoff, Madeline. 2012. “Policing in Palestine: Analyzing the EU Police Reform Mission in the West Bank.” The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), SSR Issue Papers No. 7.
  35. Le More, Anne. 2008. International Assistance to the Palestinians After Oslo: Political Guilt, Wasted Money. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Lia, Brynjar. 2007. Building Arafat’s Police: The Politics of International Police Assistance in the Palestinian Territories After the Oslo Agreement. London: Ithaca Press.Google Scholar
  37. Lovatt, Hugh. 2016. “EU Differentiation and the Push for Peace in Israel-Palestine.” European Council on Foreign Relations.
  38. Lovatt, Hugh, and Mattia Toaldo. 2014. “Five Reasons to Recognise a Palestinian State.” European Council on Foreign Relations.
  39. Lovatt, Hugh, and Mattia Toaldo. 2015. “EU Differentiation and Israeli Settlements.” European Council on Foreign Relations.
  40. Lust, Ellen, ed. 2016. The Middle East, 14th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ/Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Marten, Kimberly. 2014. “Reformed or Deformed? Patronage Politics, International Influence, and the Palestinian Authority Security Forces.” International Peacekeeping 21 (2): 181–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mustafa, Tahani. 2015. “Damming the Palestinian Spring: Security Sector Reform and Entrenched Repression.” Journal of International Intervention and Statebuilding 9 (2): 212–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. PA. 2002. “100 Days Plan of the Palestinian Government.” Palestinian Authority, Ramallah, Palestine.Google Scholar
  44. PA. 2008. “Palestinian Reform and Development Plan 2008–2010.” Palestinian Authority, Ramallah, Palestine.Google Scholar
  45. Paragi, Beata. 2017. “Contemporary Gifts: Solidarity, Compassion, Equality, Sacrifice and Reciprocity from NGO Perspective.” Current Anthropology 58 (3): 317–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Perry, Mark. 2011. “Dayton’s Mission: A Reader’s Guide.” Al-Jazeera, January 25.
  47. Persson, Anders. 2017a. “Shaping Discourse and Setting Examples: Normative Power Europe Can Work in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict.” Journal of Common Market Studies 55 (6): 1415–1431.Google Scholar
  48. Persson, Anders. 2017b. “Palestine at the End of the State-Building Process: Technical Achievements, Political Failures.” Mediterranean Politics. Advance Online Publication.Google Scholar
  49. Rose, David. 2008. “The Gaza Bombshell.” Vanity Fair, April.
  50. Said, Edward W. 1995. Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  51. Sayigh, Yezid. 2011. “Policing the People, Building the State: Authoritarian Transformation in the West Bank and Gaza.” Carnegie Paper, Carnegie Middle East Center, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February.
  52. Selby, Jan. 2003. “Dressing Up Domination as ‘Cooperation’: The Case of Israeli–Palestinian Water Relations.” Review of International Studies 29 (1): 121–138.Google Scholar
  53. Tartir, Alaa. 2014. “Re-inventing European Aid to Palestine.” European Council on Foreign Relations, June 4.
  54. Tartir, Alaa. 2015a. “The Evolution and Reform of Palestinian Security Forces, 1993–2013.” Stability: International Journal of Security & Development 4 (1): 1–20.Google Scholar
  55. Tartir, Alaa. 2015b. “Securitised Development and Palestinian Authoritarianism Under Fayyadism.” Conflict, Security & Development 15 (5): 479–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tartir, Alaa. 2016. “What Peace? State Disorders and Non-state Orders.” Open Democracy, November 25.
  57. Tartir, Alaa. 2017a. “The Palestinian Authority Security Forces: Whose Security?” Al-Shabaka, May 16.
  58. Tartir, Alaa. 2017b. “Criminalizing Resistance: The Cases of Balata and Jenin Refugee Camps in the Occupied West Bank.” Journal of Palestine Studies 46 (2): 7–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tartir, Alaa, and Benoit Challand. 2016. “Palestine.” In The Middle East, 14th ed., edited by E. Lust, 707–736. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ/Sage.Google Scholar
  60. Tartir, Alaa, and Jeremy Wildeman. 2017. “Mapping of Donor Funding to the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2012–2014/15: Limited, Disorganized and Fragmented Aid Data Undermining Transparency, Accountability and Planning.” AidWatch Palestine.
  61. Tartir, Alaa, and Filip Ejdus. 2018. “Effective? Locally Owned? Beyond the Technocratic Perspective on the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories.” Contemporary Security Policy 39 (1): 142–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. United Nations. 2003. “A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict.”
  63. Wildeman, Jeremy. 2015. “‘Either You’re with Us or Against Us’ Illiberal Canadian Foreign Aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 2001–2012.” PhD diss., University of Exeter.Google Scholar
  64. Youngs, Richard, and Helene Michou. 2011. “Assessing Democracy Assistance: Palestine.” FRIDE Foundation for the Future Project Report, May 11.
  65. Youngs, Richard, and Jake Gutman. 2015. “Is the EU Tackling the Root Causes of Middle Eastern Conflict?” Carnegie Europe, December 1.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)GenevaSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations