Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

EU: Israeli occupation is 'root' cause of violence

  • Dispute over holy sites in Jerusalem were "proximate" cause of new wave of violence (Photo: Mohammad Usaid Abbasi)

EU states, in an internal report drafted last year, have said the outbreak of Palestinian knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem is due, in large part, to Israel’s occupation.

They said the attacks began after right-wing Israeli politicians and religious groups began to question the status quo on Arab rights at the Temple Mount complex in the Old City.

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

  • Israel has kept Palestinian territories under occupation since 1967 (Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

But they added that living conditions for Palestinians and the loss of hope in a two-state solution formed the psychological “root” of the violence.

The report, drafted and endorsed in December 2015 by all the EU countries that have embassies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, said the Temple Mount developments were the “proximate cause” for the upsurge in violence that began after summer last year.

But it said the “heart of the matter” was “the Israeli occupation since 1967 and a long-standing policy of political, economic and social marginalisation of Palestinians in Jerusalem”.

It said that the “new reality” came “against a backdrop of deep frustration amongst Palestinians over the effects of the occupation, and a lack of hope that a negotiated solution can bring it to an end”.

The 39-page paper, seen by EUobserver, is part of regular reporting by EU diplomats in the region.

It is not meant to be published, but is designed to act as a reference document for meetings of EU foreign ministers in Brussels and for proposals put forward by the EU foreign service.

The report noted that the attacks were “spontaneous in nature” and mostly involved “young Palestinian men and women … acting without the apparent direction of political factions or militant groups”.

Inside Palestinian communities, the occupation has prompted higher levels of “drug abuse, division and displacement of families, domestic violence, loss of cultural identity, and high levels of stress and depression,” the EU report said.

At the time the report was filed, in early December, Palestinian attackers had killed eight Israelis and Israeli forces and civilians had killed 24 Palestinians.

By the start of June this year, those figures had climbed to 35 Israeli and more than 200 Palestinian deaths.

’Unlawful killings’

The EU diplomats warned that the resulting Israeli crackdown - which included widespread use of lethal force and house demolitions that amounted to “collective punishment” - made matters worse.

“Some Palestinian perpetrators of individual attacks have apparently been shot and killed in situations where they no longer posed a threat”, the report said.

It said that images circulated on social media fuelled the tension.

In one incident captured on video, Israeli police “appeared” to shoot a Palestinian suspect walking away from a crime scene after Israeli bystanders had called on them to open fire.

It added that “both sides” were guilty of “inflammatory rhetoric” and said EU states should “firmly condemn” any killing of civilians.

But it also called on the EU to voice “deep concern” on “excessive use of force” by Israeli police, which were “possibly amounting in certain cases to unlawful killings”.

Aside from the violence, which came to be called the Knife Intifada, meaning “knife uprising”, the EU paper chronicled: Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion; restrictions on Palestinian access to housing, education, healthcare, and jobs; and Israel’s manipulation of archeological projects in order to denigrate Palestinian people’s historical links to Jerusalem.

It said that none of the trends were new and that all of them had “worsened” over the course of last year.

It said that 84 percent of Palestinian children in the city lived below the poverty line.

It noted that up to 22,631 Palestinian children were not enrolled in school, while 36 percent of those who did go to school dropped out before completing basic education.

It said Israeli restrictions cost the Palestinian economy in the region $200 million (€179.6 million) a year in lost income and that 37 percent of young Palestinians are out of work.

Known violent settlers

The EU embassies said EU states should “ensure full and effective implementation” of a new EU code that required Israeli settler exports to be labelled in European shops.

It urged the EU to develop “further guidelines” that differentiate between Israel and its illegal settlements.

It said that while the EU is against a “boycott” of Israel, member states should “raise awareness” of the “risks” for EU firms that operate in settlement areas.

It also said that “known violent settlers and those calling for acts of violence” should be put under EU visa bans.

EU ambassadors had already proposed similar measures in a leaked report drafted at the end of 2014.

But the EU foreign relations chief, Federica Mogherini, at the time said: “There’s currently no question of sanctioning anybody. The question is rather how to motivate people to … restart peace talks”.

’Shameful, delusional’

The Israeli government has condemned the EU retail labelling code as “shameful” and “hypocritical”.

When the Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallstroem, in January echoed the 2015 EU report by calling for investigations into Israeli killings of Palestinian suspects, Israel called her “delusional” and accused her of inciting violence.

For its part, France is trying to restart the peace process by holding an Arab-Israeli summit in Paris by the end of the year.

But Israel has refused to take part.

Name row on new EU sanctions exposes deeper rift

EU officials have voiced scepticism on proposed new human rights sanctions, amid a "nasty" debate to what extent Russia ought to be named and shamed in the title of the new measures.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us