Wednesday

4th May 2016

EU diplomats: 'Jewish state' is becoming too Jewish

  • Darawshe: 'My family has lived in the same small town for 28 generations and I am never going to leave it for the sake of giving the Jews a 'pure' homeland' (Photo: Johnk85)

EU countries have raised a red flag on Israel's treatment of its Arab minority in a complaint that touches the heart of its identity as a "Jewish state."

The deputy heads of EU embassies in Tel Aviv put forward their concerns in a 27-page-long internal report sent to the European Exernal Action Service (EEAS) earlier this month.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The contents were first revealed by Israeli daily Haaretz on Friday (16 December) morning. EUobserver has also seen the "Conclusions" and the "Recommendations" parts of the paper.

The Conclusions were endorsed by all 27 member states. The Recommendations were cut from the final draft because some EU countries objected to the content.

"We should see Israel's treatment of its minorities as a core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We should support the vision for Israel of its founders: Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, in which all its citizens have equal opportunities and are treated equally under law," the Conclusions say.

"In our dialogue with the government of Israel ... we should emphasise that addressing inequality within Israel is integral to Israel's long-term stability," they add.

"We should make the following points clear ... that we do not believe that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state should detract in any way from the vision of equality for all its citizens enshrined in its founding documents; that it is in the interests of all Israelis to demonstrate that Israel is not only Jewish and democratic, but tolerant and inclusive."

The controversial Recommendations made 16 points.

One idea was to nominate a "lead EU country" to monitor "potentially discriminatory draft legislation" and to "agree that approval at the second reading of such legislation [in the Knesset] should trigger an EU demarche."

They also suggested "high-level EU visitors see the Israeli Arab community and its leadership when they visit." They added that EU countries should "lobby" the Israeli government to employ at least 10 percent Israeli Arabs in its civil service and to promote Arabic teaching in schools.

'Shared values'

EU foreign relations spokeswoman Maja Kocjanic confirmed the text is authentic.

"It was prepared for us in order to reflect how we might engage constructively with government and non-government interlocutors in Israel when dealing with an issue identified in the EU-Israeli Action Plan [a 2005 bilateral treaty] as a shared value - the rights of minorities," she said.

Arab Israelis make up 1.5 million of the country's 7.8 million population but have a higher birth rate than Jews. Another 4.4 million Arabs live in Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Mohammad Darawshe, an Arab Israeli activist for the Jersualem-and-New-York-based NGO the Abraham Fund, told EUobserver Israeli laws give "some level of de jure protection" to Arab citizens. But he said "de facto" discrimination is widening the economic gap between Arabs and Jews.

He added that right-wing Jewish groups are steering the country "downhill" in terms of civil liberties: "Israel's charter says it is 'Jewish' and 'democratic' but some Jews are trying to change the defintion to make Jewishness the dominant factor."

Darawshe described a new law passed in March - the Selection Committee Bill, which bans Arabs from buying or renting land in some 500 municipalities - as "ethnic cleansing."

"My family has lived in the same small town [Iksal] for 28 generations and I am never going to leave it for the sake of giving the Jews a 'pure' homeland," he said.

'Irresponsible language'

For his part, Mark Regev, the spokesman of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said any talk of "ethnic cleansing" is "rubbish, rubbish ... no one is being thrown out of their homes, so to use this kind of language is irresponsible."

"Israeli Arabs enjoy full rights within a multi-party democracy with full separation of powers. Where else in the Middle East do Arabs have full freedom of speech, freedom of association?" he added.

Asked by EUobserver about the rights of Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank, Regev said "that is a whole different issue."

War crimes law poisons Serbia accession talks

Croatia wants its neighbour to scrap a law on universal juridiction in the former Yugoslavia. The request is delaying the opening of a new chapter of negotiations.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary to hold migrant quota referendum by October
  2. France rejects TTIP in its current form, says Hollande
  3. New commander takes charge of US forces in Europe
  4. Spain issues arrest warrants for Russian officials
  5. Pro-Putin bikers refused entry by Poland, Lithuania
  6. Nato gives details of new Baltic force
  7. German state gets historic Green-CDU coalition
  8. Chinese police to patrol Italian streets

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Music CouncilRegister Now for the 6th European Forum on Music in Wroclaw, European Capital of Culture 2016
  2. Belgrade Security ForumJoin Our Team for the 6th Belgrade Security Forum. Apply Now! Deadline May 20
  3. European Roundtable of IndustrialistsCompanies Make Progress on Number of Women in Leadership Roles
  4. Counter BalanceParliament Gets Tough on Control EU Bank's Funds
  5. ICRCSyria: Aleppo on the Brink of Humanitarian Disaster
  6. CESIWorld Day For Health and Safety at Work: Public Sector Workers in The Focus
  7. EFABasque Peace Process-Arnaldo Otegi Visits the European Parliament
  8. EscardioChina Pays Price of Western Lifestyle With Soaring Childhood Obesity
  9. Centre Maurits CoppetiersThe Existence of a State is a Question of Fact, Not a Question of Law
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at The Event: Prospects For EU Enlargement After 2019
  11. ICRCSyria: Aid for Over 120,000 People Arrives in Besieged Town Near Homs
  12. Counter BalanceHighway to Hell: European Money Fuelling Controversial Infrastructure Projects