European Right Wing Stirs Up Middle East Peace Process

Right-wing populists are not widely known for pursuing peace in Europe. But in the Middle East, they are seeking to change that reputation. A conference right-wing politicians helped organize between Palestinian clan leaders and Jewish settlers took place on Thursday in Hebron. They are billing it as an alternative path to peace in the region.

European right-wing populist parties are widely vilified back home. Deeply wary of the euro, extremely -- and vocally -- suspicious of Muslim immigrants and virulently opposed to the center-left multicultural ideal, they are broadly seen as little more than dangerous makers of mischief on the political stage. Often, they are conflated with neo-Nazi groups even further to the right.

Overseas, however, particularly among Israeli right-wing politicians and West Bank settlers, they are often viewed more favorably. On Thursday, representatives from several European right-wing political parties joined senior settler leaders, second-tier Israeli politicians, Orthodox Jewish leaders and a number of Palestinian clan leaders at the home of Sheikh Farid al-Jabari in Hebron. They came together with no less than the goal of establishing an alternative to the two-state, Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"First and foremost, we are interested in achieving peaceful coexistence in the region. I think that needs to be the goal of all efforts," Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria (FP), told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "To that end, it is important to begin a dialogue. I am convinced that a solution can be found in the near future that is acceptable to all sides."...

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