Appreciate this article? +972 depends on your support -- click here to help us keep going

Analysis News

Israel launches 'price tag' attack par excellence in response to EU settlement directive

Israel’s defense minister orders a halt to cooperation with the European Union-funded humanitarian aid projects benefitting West Bank and Gaza Palestinians.

A Palestinian man looks at a well that an EU-funded project was helping reclaim before Israel ordered a work stoppage, Jordan Valley, May 21, 2013 (Photo: Michael Omer-Man)

Israel’s defense minister launched a massive ‘price tag’ attack last week. In response to an EU directive that will help ensure European funding does not benefit Israeli settlements, Moshe Ya’alon ordered a halt to cooperation with European humanitarian efforts benefiting Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank.

“We are freezing the relationship on everything,” an Israeli official told The Guardian. “We did this as soon as we heard [about the directive]. We can’t act like nothing happened.”

Price tag attacks are generally perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property in response to Israeli government moves against settlements. In other words, they attack an uninvolved third party in retaliation for legally sanctioned harm done to them.

Ya’alon’s order is no different. For all intents and purposes, it is a price tag attack.

European Union humanitarian projects in Area C tend to focus on water access and reclamation, providing solar electricity infrastructure, waste removal and other basic services to the most vulnerable of Palestinian communities, primarily in the rural south Hebron Hills and Jordan Valley. The decision will also reportedly affect EU training of Palestinian Authority police.

As part of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s new directives, Israel will stop all cooperation, halt issuing new permits for projects and no longer issue documents allowing EU representatives to easily travel through and into the West Bank and Gaza. The new restrictions apply to EU projects but not those of EU member states, Haaretz reported.

Israel, however, has long erected hurdles to EU humanitarian projects benefiting Palestinians. Last year, Israel destroyed 62 EU-funded humanitarian structures and another 110 projects were at risk, a UN-chaired task force of international NGOs reported. All 27 EU foreign ministers condemned the demolition of projects their countries funded.

+972 has learned of other measures taken by Israeli military officials targeting European aid workers themselves while working in Area C, not to mention the ongoing maltreatment of accredited humanitarian workers by Israel’s Interior Ministry when issuing visas.

But Israel is no stranger to collective punishment. The closure of Gaza’s crossings testifies to the regularity with which Israel metes out collective punishment on uninvolved Palestinian civilians in response to acts carried out by specific groups.

“If there is quiet, the processes easing the lives of Gazan residents will continue. And if there is [rocket] fire, then these moves will be slowed and even stopped and, if necessary, even reversed,” National security adviser Yaakov Amidror said earlier this year.

In the West Bank, collective punishment takes the form of restrictions on freedom of movement, curfews on entire villages and night raids following protests, home demolitions of the homes of suspected terrorists and more.

These acts of collective punishment are in response to actions by Palestinians themselves, affecting other uninvolved Palestinians, unlike the latest move by Israel’s defense minister. This week’s ‘price tag’ attack by Moshe Ya’alon punishes a vulnerable Palestinian population in response to a diplomatic move by an uninvolved party, which also happens to be Israel’s largest trade partner.

An EU source in Israel told the Guardian: “We have not received any official communication from the Israeli authorities. Our delegations on the spot are seeking urgent clarifications.”

Related:
Can the EU’s settlement exclusion push the U.S. to follow suit? 

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • COMMENTS

    1. Kolumn9

      The European Union declares that it will refuse to cooperate in projects with Israeli organizations in the West Bank. Israel declares that it will refuse to cooperate in projects with the European Union in the West Bank. Tit for tat is fair.

      Reply to Comment
      • shmuel

        tit-for-tat = you are mentally and morally sick.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          You expect us to allow Europe to again piss on us and pretend it is rain? Of course we will react. Europe takes a hostile act and expects us to say thank you and continue to pretend that Europe’s intentions in Judea and Samaria are benevolent.

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            “pissing on” “hostile act”

            You’d think the EU was bombing Israel instead of limiting the charitable subsidies it provides to such an ungrateful dog of a state.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            I would think that trying to force all Israeli organizations to seize any operations at the Western Wall as a condition for cooperation is a hostile act. It is a hostile act regardless of how much contempt you have for Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            cease, not seize…

            Reply to Comment
    2. This political “sulk” also indicates that this government will broach no obstruction to its creeping annexation of Area C, and hence that the “Palestinian State” it envisages in the current negotiations about negotiations would be little more than Area A and B of the West Bank connected by a few roads.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        And if the Palestinians accept that then what business is it of ‘Jon Simons’?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Danny

      Classic case of the mouse that roared. If Israel wants to punish the Europeans for their insolence, it will be so kind as to return those Dolphin submarines it so graciously received from Germany, as well as reversing all those free trade agreements it has with Europe – Israel’s undisputed number one export market. If you want tit-for-tat, be a man and go all the way!

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Europe is not Israel’s ‘undisputed number one export market’. It is undisputedly number two. So, once again you are wrong.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          Then in that case, it should be real easy for Israel to tell Europe to take a hike and cancel all trade agreements with it. No?

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Why bother? Sincce Europe has chosen to take the other side in this conflict Israel should exclude the Europeans entirely from all political aspects of the conflict. If the Europeans wish to lose half a million jobs by blocking trade with Israel because they are excluded from political involvement in a conflict they have no business being a part of, let them do so.

            Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            I’ve always thought right-wingers are intellectually challenged. With this statement, you pretty much confirmed it for me.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            I’ve always thought that left-wingers resort to personal insults when they can’t argue logically. You have confirmed that for me.

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            I agree insults are unnecessary. Your laughable overestimation of Israel’s economic importance to the EU speaks for itself. The EU is an absolutely crucial trade partner for Israel, and even a minor unraveling of that relationship would plunge Israeli industry into a deep crisis. On the other hand, Israel is an irrelevant speck to the EU, accounting for less than 1% of its exports and imports.

            Even if one accepted your entirely unsupported assertion that loss of Israeli trade would result in “half a million” jobs being lost in the EU: That represents about 0.2% of the total workforce, which would otherwise be an unnoticeable statistical ripple. In Israel, a corresponding number of lost jobs would affect about 15-20% of the total workforce. And guess for which side it will be easier to find different market opportunities: The extensively networked industrial giant of half a billion people which recently received the Nobel peace prize or the tiny country with about 7 million inhabitants which has continuously worked to make an *** out of itself in the eyes of the entire region?

            So while insults are unwarranted, we can as a simple matter of fact assert certain disabilities right-wingers have, in this case the inability to distinguish between large and small.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Toby, simple math. Take the exports to Israel (about $17B). Divide by the average income of a European (about $32K). You get roughly 531,000 jobs. Add in the knock-on effect of spending that income. Half a million jobs is a low estimate. The real number is likely closer to 600,000. There is nowhere to replace these exports. It isn’t as if the products not purchased by Israelis will suddenly be picked up by somebody else so it translates into a net loss of jobs with no compensation.

            The impact on Israel will be much larger, but to pretend that the impact on the EU would be negligible is delusional. This is especially the case since the EU is having a very hard time actually generating any new jobs and as a whole has been losing jobs in the past few years (in the good years between 2002-2008 the EU was generating slightly over 1 million jobs). It is as such delusional to believe that the EU would be willing to lose that many jobs in the interests of pursuing any policy that is not a vital European interest and this might come as a surprise to some people on this blog but whether Israel controls 50% or 5% of the West Bank is not a vital European interest. This is the part that people on the left seem to miss. The guiding principle for European policy is and will continue to be what is good for Europe. Losing 600,000 jobs is not good or worthwhile for Europe even if in the process it costs 400,000 jobs in Israel. This is especially the case where it is unlikely to lead to any productive outcome.

            So, let’s indeed talk about facts and not resort to insults. I am perfectly content to have this argument on facts.

            Reply to Comment
          • TobyR

            Yes, it is indeed simple math to deduce from the facts that the EU has about 70 times the population and GDP of Israel that the EU would barely notice the effects of a mutual severance of trade, but that Israel would be devastated. As I demonstrated above, your vaunted half million jobs would not be noticeable beyond statistical error, and $17Bn is a sum that Angela Merkel carries around in her handbag.

            Disregarding for the moment the laughably simplistic – and thereby wrong – connection you draw between exports and jobs, there is also the simple fact – mentioned by me, ignored by you – that the EU can easily compensate for the loss of a minor trade partner, but Israel cannot do the same to replace about a quarter of its trade because the only other market Israel enjoys unfettered, privileged access to is the US.

            So if Israeli politicians think they should aggressively boycot and “price-tag” the EU, I can only say: Bring it on! We’ll barely notice it here in Europe on an economic level, and the substantial retaliation the EU will have no choice but to deliver will finally exert the kind of pressure on Israel that is the only way of achieving a just peace, ever.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The part you seem to be missing is that losing the jobs Europe generates from trade with Israel is that it constitutes half a year of job creation in the EU on a good year. To any reasonable observer this is not marginal, then again perhaps you think you can just magically generate jobs in Europe to replace them. If you can please go talk to someone in Brussels because for the past 3 years they have been shedding jobs at a rate of more than a million per year. You can come in with a package deal for them. They will boycott Israel and in return you provide them with 500,000 jobs. Otherwise they will laugh you out of the building were you to come to them claiming that the lost jobs will not ‘be noticeable’ or that Europe can “easily compensate” for it.

            To Israel its interests in the West Bank are vital security issues. To Europe it is a marginal issue of power projection in a remote area. Israel should aggressively exclude the European Union from all political aspects of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians because it has become a hostile actor. If Europe chooses to retaliate economically then Israel will suffer greatly and Europe certainly much less but I must point out that you not buying my products is still better than me being blown up on a bus if we decide to make the wrong security concessions as a result of the pressures of hostile foreign actors like Europe.

            Reply to Comment
      • Gregory

        Your understanding of “tit-for-tat” is…idiosyncratic.

        Reply to Comment
      • BklynBirny

        Israel has no quarrel with Germany in this regard. Their quarrel is with slimy EU bureaucrats and their desire to segregate Israelis into the “good Jews” and “bad Jews”. Israel’s response is right on the money.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          “their desire to segregate Israelis into the “good Jews” and “bad Jews”.

          Israel already does that very well on its own. It doesn’t need Europe for that.

          Reply to Comment
    4. The prior Palestinian residents of the Bank are being punished for being–prior residents. They have no national-religious warrant for occupation of the area, but settlers do. This world is a zero sum game, and only Israel will pour resources in to shift outcomes. The net result will be a marginal increase in instability, as yet more grievence is docked against life occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    5. rsgengland

      A brilliant move.
      A pity it has taken so long to happen.
      Now Israel should look at how all the anti-Israel NGOs’ are funded.
      If they receive EU money, they should be classed as foreign government agents.
      If they receive funding from foreign NGOs’, that in turn receive funding from the EU, these should also be classed agents of foreign governments.

      Reply to Comment
      • The not so hidden assumption behind your designation of “anti-Israel NGO’s” is that you know what is good for Israel and those Israeli citizens which dedicate themselves within these “anti-Israel NGO’s” either do not, are incapable of seeing their true interest, or, if not these, are treasonous. So where do we classify the woman recently shot (with rubber bullet only) here?

        This is a modified Fascism: only the present coalitions controlling the State know what is good for the people, and voices otherwise, which do things like video and provide video cell phones to the enemy, are actively hostile to the State so people. A brilliant move indeed.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          The assumption is that organizations that demand the elimination of Israel are hostile to Israel. The assumption is that organizations that demand that external actors impose economic pain on Israel and her citizens are hostile to Israel. Would you like to dispute either of these assumptions or would you like to provide an explanation why any government should allow such hostile bodies to continue to be sponsored from abroad?

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Justice

            Reply to Comment
          • The explanation you seek is equal protection of the law. You are quite willing to allow foregin support for causes you find beneficial to your definition of Israel–the Christian group “GodTV” funding the forests in the Negev comes to mind. 972 has in the past accepted foreign grants. To claim 972 advocates the elimination of Israel is just silly. As to harming Israel via taken policy positions, this is part of public discourse; to claim that Israeli corporate nationalists do not enjoy foreign support to similar end is just not true. All reduces to a definition of harm which reduces civil dissent absent violence. It is quite possible to advocate things you dislike and still believe they are best for one’s country. I am somewhat surprised that you would grace the pages of 972 given their past disgusting acceptance of foreign money.

            As to BDS proper, some blacks in the South urged boycotts of local business which indeed hurt their own economy; similarly in South Africa. Yet these boycotts helped position the Southern socio-economy for true growth, decades latter, once desegregation was achieved. At the time, however, opponents charged these boycotts as a traitorous disruption of life.

            You could do with seeing this encactment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5Y-64GJT8E

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Equal protection of the law is perfectly fine. Any group that publicly advocates and operates towards the destruction or economic boycott of Israel should lose external funding. Turn into a law and apply it equally. How is that not equal protection of the law?

            Look, I provided several simple assumptions. Would it be fair to say that an organization that is pursuing the destruction or elimination of Israel is hostile to Israel? It really isn’t a very complicated question.

            The next question is whether such an organization should be allowed to be generously sponsored by outside actors who pursue their own interests and who quite obviously are sponsoring marginal political groups within Israel in an attempt to internally influence Israeli society and Israeli politics?

            You insist on running off on quests for silly analogies and straw man arguments rather than answering simple questions. Did I say that 972mag is an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel? As for the example of Southern blacks or Southern liberal whites boycotting Southern businesses. If they were advocating and directly acting towards creating a state that would realistically lead to the massacre or expulsion of all white people in the South, then yes, it would be entirely legitimate to consider them to be traitorous and hostile forces that should be prevented from being sponsored from abroad by foreign governments.

            Reply to Comment
      • JG

        “If they receive funding from foreign NGOs’, that in turn receive funding from the EU, these should also be classed agents of foreign governments.”

        Classy rightwinger non-logic.
        I would consider Israel government and army as agents of a foreign nation, as they receive huge fundings by an outside nation called US of A……

        Reply to Comment
        • rsgengland

          I love the use of the term ‘rightwing’.
          Do you actually understand the meaning of that term in the real world?
          I think not!
          Israel receives defense funding from the USA; so does Egypt.
          Europe under the umbrella of NATO, receives low cost, subsidized defense from the USA.
          North Korea receives food aid from the USA.
          The Palestinians receive massive funding from the USA via the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA.
          The list is endless.
          Are all these countries, and more, also ‘agents of a foreign country’, using your ingenious logic?
          I think you need to study all the available facts.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Piotr Berman

      Indeed, a brilliant move. In Ynetnews the readers are jubilant. However, one should note two facts:

      1. This sanction does not impose any pain on any EU country.

      2. It forces EU to do something more. So far, there was a wall of separation between the sector of EU bureaucracy that oversees charities and other grants, and the sector that supervises the trade. In the former there were complains about the interference of Israeli repressions on the charitable works, including outright demolitions, and in the latter it was booming business as usual. Now the dispute clearly cannot be handled further by the “charitable” sector, and being spit on the face, EU will have to do something.

      And if Israel will “retaliate” by striking at NGOs, EU will have to do something more, and in the process Israel will beef up her credentials as a creepy supremacist and belligerent little state. And I do not see what member state of EU will provide a veto.

      Keep in mind that American influence in Europe is perhaps at its lowest ever. The only reason that Israel is so favorably considered by EU is that it remains the favorite pet of USA.

      Reply to Comment
    7. sh

      It’s much, much more than the broken glass, burned carpets, punctured tires, offensive graffiti called “price tag”. And “collective punishment” is also not strong enough, especially as punishment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza never involves trial and commensurate punishment in an open court. Nor are the Palestinians “vulnerable”. In practice, they are defenceless.

      No, this is what hostage-takers do. They pose for the camera with one boot on their hostages’ necks and announce that any attempt to rescue their captives will increase their suffering (not the hostage-takers’), illustrating the point with a vigorous stamp of that boot, a delicate hint that worse (how much worse may be beyond your wildest imaginings) could still come. Yet when the inevitable happens, the hostage-takers will point a finger as far away from themselves as possible and con pathos declaim something like we will never forgive them for making us kill their children.

      Tragic that still, so few outspoken Jewish voices are raised over what is about to unfold before them.

      Reply to Comment
    8. aristeides

      Good. Maybe the scales will at last fall from the eyes of the EU nations so they realize what kind of state they’ve been subsidizing and enabling all these years.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Rumpleforeskin

      I guess the EU’s original actions WEREN’T a price tag move? But then again they aren’t Jews. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Click here to load previous comments

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Name (Required)
    Mail (Required)
    Website
    Free text

© 2010 - 2014 +972 Magazine
Follow Us
Credits

+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

Website empowered by RSVP

Illustrations: Eran Mendel