Monday

21st Jan 2019

EU diplomats urge financial sanctions on Israeli settlers

  • Israeli soldiers pray at remains of Jewish temple - the EU says archeological digs are eroding Muslim and Christian history (Photo: Flickmor)

Senior EU diplomats have called for financial sanctions and travel bans on Israeli settlers in what they describe as a last-ditch effort to save the Middle East peace process.

An internal report by EU countries' consuls general in Jerusalem and Ramallah - seen by EUobserver - says member states should "prevent … financial transactions, including foreign direct investment from within the EU, in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It adds that individual EU states should "explore the possibility of denying entry to known settler radicals."

It also calls for EU guidelines on retail labels for settler-made products, such as wine or cosmetics, in order to "guarantee [European] consumers' right to an informed choice."

EU institutions are already drafting a common code on product labels.

But EU foreign ministers have in recent years ignored similar proposals for sanctions.

An EU official told this website that Brussels-based diplomats discussed the Jerusalem report on 19 February, but "debate about the follow-up is [still] continuing."

Meanwhile, the 15-page text paints a scary picture of prospects for peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It says: "If the current Israeli policy regarding the city [Jerusalem] continues, particularly settlement activity, the prospect of Jerusalem as a future capital of two states, Israel and Palestine, becomes practically unworkable."

It adds: "Settlement construction remains the single biggest threat to the two-state solution. It is systematic, deliberate and provocative."

It notes that 200,000 Jewish settlers have come to live in East Jerusalem since Israel annexed it "illegally" in 1967 and that Israeli tenders for new settler homes more than doubled in 2012 compared to 2011.

It warns that some new structures - such as those in the "E1" area - are designed to "form an Israeli buffer" around the city and to make it "difficult if not impossible to ensure [the] territorial contiguity" of Palestine.

At the same time, demolitions of Palestinian-owned buildings went up 54 percent last year, with 85,000 Palestinians considered to be "at risk of forced displacement."

The EU consuls general noted that Israeli administrative barriers for Palestinian schools and businesses "undermine the right to education" of 90,000 children and aggravate poverty.

They said 78 percent of Palestinians live below the poverty line, compared to 64 percent in 2006.

They also complained about Israel's "ideological" programme.

They said it gives free rein for settler groups to dig up archaeological sites to create a "partisan historical narrative of Jerusalem, placing emphasis on biblical and Jewish connotations of the area, while neglecting Christian/Muslim ties."

They noted that Israeli police stops Palestinian textbooks getting to Palestinian schools in favour of "a version of the curriculum edited by the Israeli authorities."

Reacting to the leaked paper, the Israeli embassy to the EU said European countries should pay more attention to rockets from Gaza than to settlements.

"I would like to know if there is also an EU report about the security situation for residents in southern Israel," its spokesman, Yoel Mester, told this website on Wednesday (27 February).

He added: "We're not running away from the need to discuss the issue [of settlements], but unfortunately the other side is running away from direct talks where we could discuss this as well."

For her part, Palestine's ambassador to the EU, Leila Shahid, called his remarks "rubbish."

She said Palestine is ready to restart talks when Israel honours its commitments in the Roadmap - a 2003 agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which says Israel will freeze settlements if the PA stops violent resistance.

"They have not only not frozen settlements, they have intensified them. I don't see how we can be running away from anything, when all we ask is for Israel to stick to its obligations," she told EUobserver.

Israeli leader mocks EU 'dismay'

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has mocked EU "dismay" over his plan to split Palestine in three and take away its capital.

Israel vs. Palestine: one-nil?

Israel last month showed off its high-tech weapons by scoring a "goal" with bombs in a Gaza football field. But civilian deaths and settlement expansion have caused diplomatic defeats.

Put Hezbollah on EU terror list, Israeli President says

Israeli President Shimon Peres has urged the EU to put Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organisations, claiming that failure to do so would be an indication that the EU was prepared to tolerate its actions.

News in Brief

  1. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  2. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  3. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report
  4. Vestager under pressure to allow Siemens-Alstom deal
  5. Teargas and clashes in Athens over Macedonia name change
  6. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  7. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  8. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us