Wednesday

21st Feb 2018

Another day, another leaked EU report on Israel

  • Israeli soldiers praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of Judaism holiest places (Photo: Flickmor)

EU countries have again accused Israel of trying to destroy chances for peace with Palestinians by snatching control of East Jerusalem.

The December 2011 report by the EU heads of mission in Ramallah - seen by EUobserver - notes that last year saw "a surge in [Israeli] settlement planning" designed to ring fence the city with Jewish-only neighbourhoods.

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"If current trends continue, the prospect of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states becomes increasingly unlikely and unworkable, undermining a two-state solution ... [Israeli actions] provide fuel to those who want to further radicalise the conflict," it said.

It noted that the timing of housing decisions undermined attempts to re-launch the peace process.

A decision on the Gilo settlement came "a few days" after leading UN countries urged parties to halt "provocative actions." Another one on the Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev settlements came "just before" Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met after a 16-month hiatus.

It anticipates that 2,300 Bedouin will shortly be evicted - some to a waste dump - to make way for more Jewish houses.

The Jerusalem paper comes on top of two other damning surveys by European diplomats.

An internal report dated 14 December accused Israel of monopolising farm land and water in the Jordan Valley in a bid to drive out native Arabs. Another recent EU paper said it is eroding the civil liberties of Arab-Israeli citizens.

The Jerusalem report recommended some sanctions-type measures.

It said the European Commission should propose a law "to prevent/discourage [EU] financial transactions in support of settlement activity." It urged the Union to "ensure" Israeli vegetables from farms on occupied land do not get preferential import tariffs. It also said EU countries should "share information on violent settlers ... to assess whether to grant entry into EU member states."

The reports have little impact on EU foreign policy, which is subject to veto by pro-Israeli countries such as the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. They also do little to influence Israel.

Israel's foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told EUobserver on Wednesday (18 January) the surveys are illegitimate because they are drafted without Israeli input: "I think the best answer to these serial reports is given by EU authorities, who always discuss these reports succinctly and shelve them with their unfeasible recommendations almost as quickly as they are raised."

The 21-page Jerusalem survey drew attention to some hard facts of life for the 790,000 Palestinians who live in their Israeli-controlled city.

It said Arab quarters suffer from overcrowding, dirty streets and poor sewage facilities.

Palestinian children in Israeli-run schools have to use books which are "edited" for "sensitive" content, like Palestinian flags.

Ambulances trying to cross Israeli checkpoints with Palestinian patients in urgent condition face "unnecessary and potentially life-threatening delays."

During Ramadan, only children and middle-aged or older Palestinians are allowed to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third most holy place in Islam.

Meanwhile, Jewish settlers in the Wadi Hilweh district next to the mosque are digging up ancient sites in a way that puts "emphasis on biblical and Jewish-Israeli connotations of the area while neglecting Arab/Mulsim claims of historic-archeological ties."

Opinion

Europe awakens to Palestinian realities

With Ashton in Israel this week and with fresh EU reports on the realities of Israeli occupation, Europe should not squander its opportunity to build better relations with the rapidly changing Arab world.

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By rejecting the so-called ACAA agreement, MEPs could begin to play a mature and constructive role in EU foreign policy in the Arab Spring region.

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