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EU diplomats to Brussels: Put your money where your mouth is

Written in between the lines of the EU heads of mission report on Israeli settlements is a sense of frustration with the EU’s inaction against Israel. The EU makes regular statements against Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, but takes no action despite the existing tools it has at its disposal.

Building of the new settlement of Leshim on the lands of the West Bank village of Kafr ad Dik, near Salfit, December 7, 2012. (photo: Activestills)

At face value, the European Union heads of mission report on the Israeli settlement enterprise is a scathing indictment and call to action against Israel’s illegal settlement activities. In between the lines, however, the report reflects a frustration by European diplomats and bureaucrats at their own governments’ inaction. They are not implementing the existing legislation, decisions and declarations they themselves regularly make against Israel and its settlements.

The EU’s rhetoric against Israel’s settlement policies has always been damning, but its actions have never lived up to its words.

Read the full report here

“The EU and its member states now face the urgent challenge of translating the observations and recommendations of their own senior diplomats into concrete and effective policies that indeed maintain the possibility of the two-state solution,” a document obtained by +972 stated.

Reflecting the (perhaps naïvely optimistic) sense of a closing window for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a frustration with EU inaction despite its rhetoric, the document continues: “If the EU and its member states won’t accelerate the operationalization and implementation of their declared positions in 2013, the two-state solution will fail.”

This is a clear call to action – a frustrated plea by the EU’s professional ranks to their elected bosses to put their money where their mouth is.

Without action, the almost predictably regular condemnations of Israeli settlements by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, unequivocally declaring them illegal under international law are just that: empty statements and declarations.

The power of such a wide union of developed and influential countries such as the EU is meaningless if it limits itself to declarations and condemnations instead of exercising the power it is sitting on.

The message these diplomats are sending is that principled and legal stands against illegal settlements – and in favor of a two-state solution – are in vain if it takes no action.

But the report’s recommendations are not groundbreaking. They are based on existing resolutions, legislation, trade agreements and declarations by the European Union, its legislative and diplomatic bodies and its individual member states.

The EU-Israel Association Agreement, which established the free trade agreement and close diplomatic cooperation between the two is explicitly clear about the conditions necessary for its continued existence.

Article 2 of the agreement states:

Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.

As far as the EU is concerned, a two-state solution is the only way to ensure that human rights and democratic principles are respected for both Israelis and Palestinians. It is also clear that the EU believes settlement activity is the primary obstacle to achieving a two-state solution.

After explaining how settlements are the biggest obstacle to piece, the report is particularly bold in declaring that Israel’s settlement activity “is systematic, deliberate and provocative.”

Discussing how Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine if there is to be a two-state solution, the diplomats write: “Israel is actively perpetuating its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.”

In other words, they are saying that Israel is actively working against a two-state solution, and therefore against the foreign policy interests of the EU.

The European Union is Israel’s largest trade partner and holds tremendous influence due to the free trade agreement that benefits Israel far more than it does the EU or any of its individual member states.

The EU long ago gave itself the tools to put pressure on Israel to correct its ways. These diplomats are begging their governments to use them.

“Do something!”, they’re screaming.

However, foreign consulates in Jerusalem and Ramallah are known to be much more blunt in their criticism of Israeli policy than their sister-embassies in Tel Aviv. So just as it is not surprising that such a frustrated and damning document came out of the consulates, we can expect that it will be ignored like all those that preceded it.

Could UNHRC’s settlement report put the ‘S’ back in BDS?
Dim prospects for international pressure to end occupation

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    1. Kolumn9

      Could somebody explain to me how it is any of Europe’s business what goes on in Jerusalem? Did I miss the memo that granted Europe the right to intervene everywhere in the world? I suppose it must derive from that burden they must carry which seems to weigh them down very selectively.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        East Jerusalem is not recognized by ANY country in the world as Israeli territory. As such, it is deemed to be occupied land. Therefore, if Israel is trying to unilaterally build facts on the ground there, it is up to Europe (and the rest of the world) to make it stop by all means necessary, including force of arms if there is no alternative.

        Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          Nobody in the world recognizes the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” but do you see any EU diplomats or others go around screaming about it and demanding BDS be applied against Turkey? How about India’s illegal annexation of Kashmir in the 1940’s? Any demands for BDS against India?

          Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            With all due respect to Cyprus, Jerusalem is a city holy to the 3 major religions in the world – representing some 3-4 billion people!

            Jerusalem is NOT Israel’s private property with which it can do as it pleases.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Since the holiness of Jerusalem to a few billions of gentiles is a direct function of its holiness to Jews, there is no reason why it should not or could not be “private property” of Jews.

            Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          I don’t think the EU is going to go around worrying about things simply because you and some other “progressives” do. Does the EU worry about the illegial, unrecognized Turkish Republic of Norhtern Cyprus which ethnically cleansed the Greek Cypriot population there in 1974 and which is building Turkish settlements there? No. No calls for BDS or anything like that. In fact I haven’t seen you or any of the other “progressives” here at 972 even mention it. Or how about the slaughter in Syria, where the killing machine is supported on both sides by the Russians, Chinese, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. You “progressives” don’t care at all. Thus, we see “human rights” is not a major item on the world’s agenda, so don’t assume they are going do what you want, simply because YOU want it.

          Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            To be completely fair to the EU, the reason why Turkey has not been accepted in the EU and they are ineligible is because of Northern Cyprus. can’t be in the EU if you are actively in some sort of ‘conflict’ with a member state and its record on human rights.
            Also the EU has been up in Cyprus’s business as well.

            But feel free to start up your own BDS with regards to Cyprus. It’s a free country, do as you will.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >To be completely fair to the EU, the reason why Turkey has not been accepted in the EU and they are ineligible is because of Northern Cyprus.

            No. Turkey has not been accepted to EU because EU has no need in 75 000 000 Turks.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            And I also think you are missing the point of 972 mag. I’ll post what their mission is.

            +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.

            Doesn’t say much about Cyprus, India, etc. To be honest, there is no one stopping you in starting your own website about Cyprus and advocate for boycott of Turkey or whatever. But if you are looking for daily coverage of Cyprus, India, China, etc, you came to the wrong website buddy.

            Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            The Arab/Israeli conflict can not be understood in isolation When brother Arabs/Muslim butcher each other in Syria, Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon Israelis will inevitably ask themselves what meaning a “peace agreement” with the Palestinians or other Arab states and how it could possibly last very long if Arabs can not live in peace with themselves. When countries like Egypt and Tunisia are incapable of setting up stable governments, then what would this mean about a possible future government that would be expected to maintain a peace agreement with Israel. When the UN, EU and the rest of the world turns a blind eye to the butchery going on in Syria, then Israelis are going to ask what value any international agreements backing an Arab-Israeli peace would be. When several horrible massacres of Shi’ites occur in Pakistan at the hands of brother Sunni Muslims, Jews have to wonder how Muslims will relate to Jews (who are NOT their brothers) in the future.

            Reply to Comment
      • John

        Yes, you missed the memo. Sovereignty is a two-way street. Israel is free to pursue an expansionist agenda – but no other country is under any obligation to enable this agenda if it contravenes established agreements, and is free to do whatever they please to try to stop it, so long as this is within a legal framework. Israel is a small country that is taking on increasing risks – it is within its rights to do, but it’s embarrassing to then come crying about the consequences.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ask your government to stop signing agreements with such language. This is a replay of the refugee convention in another area.

        “The power of such a wide union of developed and influential countries such as the EU is meaningless if it limits itself to declarations and condemnations instead of exercising the power it is sitting on.” : The EU is near economic unraveling; of course enforcement langauge will not be taken seriously when many want out of the Union (or others out). The Union has never delt face on with federal constitutional enforcement.

        Reply to Comment