Thursday

27th Jul 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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."

EU leaks on Jerusalem not enough, campaigner says

A leading activist against the expansion of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem has castigated the EU practice of leaking reports and issuing statement after statement instead of taking action against Israel.

Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem draws EU rebuke

Israel has announced the construction of some 700 apartments in East Jerusalem just a month after the Jewish state proclaimed a freeze in the building of new settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, provoking moderate criticism from the European Union.

EU countries confront Israel on latest land-grab

The four EU countries on the United Nations Security Council have used unusually strong words to criticise Israel's latest expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

Opinion

Israel needs outside 'interference'

It is imperative the EU shows support for Israeli human rights groups under fire from a draft law reminiscent of Apartheid, writes Alon Liel, Israel's former ambassador to South Africa.

Journalists on trial highlight Turkey crackdown

The trial, which opened Monday, of 17 journalists and administrative employees of the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet is considered one of the most important episodes in a systematic campaign to silence dissent.

Opinion

Stronger EU-Egypt ties must not disregard human rights

The EU’s apparent willingness to water down its stance on human rights in Egypt could seriously compromise its credibility and have far-reaching consequences for its relations with other countries in the region.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  2. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  3. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  5. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  6. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  7. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  10. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  11. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  12. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug

Latest News

  1. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  2. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  3. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  4. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis
  5. EU-US scrap on Russia sanctions gets worse
  6. Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles have one month to start taking migrants
  7. EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7
  8. Court told to 'dismiss' case against EU migrant quotas