The EU has become effectively paralyzed in its ability to react to and meaningfully impact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A recent visit by Arab members of Knesset represents an opportunity for both the EU and civil society in Israel to engage in new ways. By Nimrod Goren The EU quite frequently expresses criticism over Israeli policies and legislation that damage prospects of achieving the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts or that run counter to the principles of democracy and human rights. Israel’s recent Jewish Nation-State Law ties both aspects together – it contradicts the value of equality that appears in…Read More...
Whether European states follow through on their threats and warnings over the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar will determine a great deal about the EU's relevance and its ability to influence Israeli policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians. European powers are going to have to make a crucial choice in the coming week. Two months after five EU states reportedly warned Israel that the demolition and forced displacement of Khan al-Ahmar would “trigger a reaction” from its allies, the Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday gave its final stamp of approval for the demolition to go ahead. [tmwinpost] Along with the southern West Bank…Read More... | 7 Comments
The law would prohibit the import and sale of goods and services that originate in settlements in occupied territories, targeting Israeli settlements but also other occupations worldwide. Previous European laws made do with 'differentiation' measures. Ireland's parliament is set to vote on a bill Tuesday to prohibit trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories, including those in the West Bank. In contrast to policies and legislation that differentiate Israeli settlements and excludes them from trade agreements, the Irish bill could be construed as sanctions targeting settlement products. [Update: After Israel summoned the Irish ambassador over the proposed law, the Irish Senate…Read More... | 1 Comment
Stricter trade guidelines, harsher rhetoric and corporate responsibility campaigns all send a clear message: Israel's closest allies are no longer willing to passively accept the occupation, and the only consensus on settlements is that they are illegal. The United States appears to be following the European Union in taking symbolic steps to challenge the aura of normalcy with which Israel has cloaked its settlement enterprise for decades. United States Customs officials published a notice last week clarifying that U.S. law does not permit goods manufactured in the West Bank, including in Israeli settlements, to be labeled as “made in Israel.”…Read More... | 4 Comments
The prime minister had a busy week. We were taking notes. 1. We could destroy Al-Aqsa — if we wanted to Netanyahu dedicated a good part of the past few months to swearing up and down that Palestinians are inciting violence by suggesting that Israel, Israelis or Israeli rule threatens Islam’s third-holiest site, Haram al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque. (Ignoring, of course, that members of his own government regularly incite against Al-Aqsa.) And then there was this. “If the Jews wanted to destroy Al-Aqsa it wouldn’t take much effort, not at all,” the prime minister told party members in a closed…Read More...
On the same day the EU adopts guidelines for labeling settlement goods, the Knesset passes a preliminary reading of a bill to prevent entry to individuals who support a boycott of Israel. The European Union approved a plan Wednesday to begin labeling goods produced in West Bank settlements, raising the ire of the Israeli government, even prompting a response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On the very same day, the Knesset approved a preliminary reading of a bill to ban individuals who call for a boycott of Israel. [tmwinpost] "The Israeli economy is strong and will withstand this, those who will suffer…Read More... | 8 Comments
Israeli government allegations of an EU double standard are largely grounded on misguided or incomplete information. By Lorenzo Kamel In 2005 the European Union clarified that products originating in areas beyond Israel’s pre-1967 lines do not benefit from preferential tariff treatment under the EU-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Ten years later, on September 10, 2015, the European Parliament passed an historical resolution calling on the EU to issue labels for products from those areas — settlement products. It passed 525 to 70 (with 31 abstentions), and will likely be effective from October 1 of this year. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister…Read More... | 12 Comments
In attempting to hold off European plans to label West Bank settlement products, Israel could easily overplay its hand. The Netanyahu government's bunker mentality will only increase international isolation. It’s pretty difficult to find a minister in the Israeli government who will go on record supporting a two-state solution in any sincere terms these days. Of course we want a Palestinian state, they say, but god forbid we hand over control of the West Bank and withdraw our troops. [tmwinpost] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been saying as much for years. “I think the Israeli people understand now what I…Read More... | 12 Comments
One by one, day by day, Europe is closing its gates to refugees desperately searching for a way in. Confused, exhausted and frightened, at times they don’t even know what country they are in. Two Activestills photographers follow refugees as they make their way toward Germany. Photos and text by Keren Manor & Mareike Lauken / Activestills.org The train rolls to a stop at a small town on the Hungarian border town, Hegyeshalom. Some 1,500 refugees, the vast majority of them from Syria and Afghanistan, descend and start marching along the tracks in silence. Outside the train station and alongside the…Read More... | 4 Comments
The European Council on Foreign Relations publishes a paper recommending the EU take measures against financial institutions that do businesses in the West Bank. Israeli bank stocks dip shortly after Israeli media quoted a Reuters article on the report. The degree of nervousness in Israel over potential future sanctions against local companies that do business in the settlements was evident for all to see Tuesday. Publicity surrounding an EU think tank report on the topic caused the Tel Aviv banking index to drop 2.3 points in less than an hour (a total of 2.46 points for the day). [tmwinpost] The…Read More... | 1 Comment
The European Union is substituting pressure on Israel for dialogue. How else will it be able to continue building schools and solar panels in the occupied territories? The European Union is one of the most demonized bodies in Israel at the moment, and the hate is no longer coming only from the extreme right. The working assumption in the Israeli mainstream is that the EU is biased against Israel, that it supports different forms of sanctions and boycotts, and that it is trying to isolate Israel and force it to withdraw from the occupied territories. [tmwinpost] The truth is entirely…Read More... | 1 Comment
Congress uses U.S. trade policy to undercut European pressure against Israeli settlements. A new U.S. bill legitimizes Israeli settlements and delegitimizes Palestinian non-violent resistance to the occupation. The United States Congress is about to pass a law that erases the Green Line and delegitimizes one of the most effective non-violent tools Palestinians have for fighting the 48-year-old Israeli occupation. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act legally authorizes the White House to negotiate and sign trade deals. An amendment in that bill now defines Washington’s principal objectives in those negotiations to include the discouragement of boycott, divestment and sanctions moves…Read More... | 80 Comments
An Israeli settler NGO has accused the EU of illegal building in the West Bank. But the facts — and its understanding of international law — just don’t add up. By Michel Waelbroeck and Willem Aldershoff Reports started circulating before Israel’s elections that Prime Minister Netanyahu had ordered the destruction of mobile structures distributed by the EU in Area C of the West Bank. This harks back to a report in November 2014 by the Israeli NGO Regavim, which draws a shocking parallel between the EU’s humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Area C and Israel’s building of settlements there. Assuming…Read More... | 17 Comments
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