Monday

19th Nov 2018

Germany: trust in Israel 'profoundly shaken'

  • Pop-up synagogue in Israeli outpost in Hebron in the West Bank (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

Germany and France have spoken out in strident terms against Israel’s plan to confiscate privately-owned Palestinian land by legalising settler outposts.

“The confidence we had in the Israeli government’s commitment to the two-state solution has been profoundly shaken,” the German foreign ministry said on Wednesday (8 February).

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

  • Jewish settlers create illegal outposts under the protection of Israeli soldiers (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

It said that those people in Germany who felt friendly toward Israel had been “disappointed” and urged it to restore its “credibility” by restating its promise to establish a future Palestinian state alongside Israel and to “underpin this with practical steps”.

It added that such a promise was also needed because members of the right-wing Israeli coalition had “openly called for the annexation of parts of the West Bank and are preparing bills to this end.”

The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and its ambassador to Israel, Helene Le Gal, also spoke out.

"I call on Israel to respect its international obligations and rescind the [settler outpost] law,” Ayrault said, adding that it “could exacerbate tensions in the region.”

Le Gal said: “The international community is wondering if they should trust Israel when Israel is saying that [it] is ready for discussion with … the Palestinians, and to reach an agreement on the two-state solution.”

She said the fact that Israel planned to financially compensate the Palestinian landowners did not make it any better.

“If there is an agreement, of course, that these settlement blocs are within Israel, then of course there is no problem. But there is no discussion. It's only Israel who decides,” she said.

Israel on Tuesday passed a law to retroactively legalise 3,900 outposts.

Outposts, unlike settlements, are private initiatives by Jewish settler groups who pitch camp on Palestinian land protected by Israeli soldiers and claim it for their own on Biblical grounds.

In January, Israel also announced plans to build 6,000 new official settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in a decision that equally flouted international law and drew foreign rebukes.

A European diplomatic source told EUobserver that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, a pro-Israeli hawk, in the US and that he was also using the settlement controversy to distract media attention from a corruption affair that could see him lose power.

The US has stayed silent on his actions.

New German attitude

France is an outspoken critic of Israel and previously warned that it would unilaterally recognise Palestine if it lost faith in the peace process.

The strong statement by Germany, which has in the past shied away from criticising Israel due, in part, to Germany’s Holocaust-era complex, was a new development, however.

The UK, which has been trying to curry favour with Trump, and the Czech Republic, formerly a staunch Israeli ally, also attacked the outpost law.

The legalisation “damages Israel's standing with its international partners”, Tobias Ellwood, British minister for the Middle East said.

The EU foreign service was the first to react, already on Tuesday, saying that the outpost law “entrenched … a one-state reality”.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini had planned to hold a summit with Netanyahu on 28 February, but EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday quietly decided to postpone the initiative due to the earlier announcement on the 6,000 settler homes.

Speaking to EUobserver in an interview over the weekend, Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, said the EU’s verbal rebukes had little meaning unless they were backed up by sanctions, such as banning exports of settler products.

“Lack of accountability, impunity, is what provides the Israeli government with enough confidence to move ahead with its plan to bury the prospects of the two-state solution,” he said.

“The Netanyahu administration knows that no action will be taken,” he said.

US urges Europe to spend more on Nato

US threatened to reduce its involvement in Nato if Europeans did not spend more. It also criticised Russia, amid confusion on Trump's foreign policy.

Opinion

EU must act against 'Jerusalem Bill'

European officials should spell out real economic, political, and legal consequences of an Israeli bill that would reduce Jerusalem's Palestinian population from 40 percent to 32 percent.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Opinion

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us