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EU takes a stand on Israeli settlements

What seems so logic – for the EU to act in accordance with international law in its business with Israel – will only take effect early in January 2014.

Yet for the first time ever Israel now has to acknowledge in writing that the West Bank settlements are not part of Israel….

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This means that EU member states may no longer issue grants, scholarships, funding, and prizes to Israeli organizations operating in settlements on Palestinian land.

The European Union’s “territorial clause,” will be a binding rule on all negotiations with Israel. In effect, it determines that all agreements between Israel and the EU will be valid only within Israeli borders recognized by the European Union, meaning the borders prior to the 1967 Six-Day War.

All settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal according to international law as an occupier may not transfer any of its civilian population to the land of the occupied party (Geneva Convention, Article 49, Paragraph 6).

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That the European Union now officially recognizes that Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are illegal comes as a shock to Israel.

Israel does not agree with the law or with the EU.

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According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz a senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the new ruling, which was published on June 30 2013, as an “earthquake”:

This is the first time such an official, explicit guideline has been published by the European Union bodies…Until today there were understandings and quiet agreements that the Union does not work beyond the Green Line [the pre-1967-war border]; now this has become a formal, binding policy.

Says the article in Haaretz:

In the Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry there is great tension and anxiety over the new regulation and its implications for Israeli-EU relations. The efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin to stop the move have all failed.

When I watched the news on Aljazeera last night (16 July 2013) Elkin said that this new ruling will slow down the “peace process”.

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In my opinion this kind of remark makes people think that the world (and Palestine) does not want peace between the two countries…..and “as Israel wants peace, they are brave and good”.  It also creates the impression of “complexity” – whereas the law is quite clear.  The kind of peace the Israeli government has in mind, is the kind where Palestinians will not be equal citizens in neither their own nor in a shared country.  Peace in Israel’s language does not imply adherence to international law.

Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi embraced the EU’s decision, saying that:

“[this] is the beginning of new era. Israel should listen carefully and should understand that this occupation cannot continue without any kind of accountability.”  (IMEMC).

The legally binding directive will come into effect in January 2014.  It is a step in the right direction, but it has taken too long to arrive at this point.  We shall one day have to look back and acknowledge that the world (that’s us) failed Palestine (and therefore human rights).

For peace in Israel and in Palestine, both countries and all world players (including the USA) should uphold human rights not only in their talk, but in their deeds.  It starts with each individual as politicians’ decisions are strongly influenced by what their voters push for.

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