Friday

12th Aug 2022

EU leaks on Jerusalem not enough, campaigner says

  • Silwan: 'In one or two years at most, the most sensitive places in East Jerusalem will become Israeli' (Photo: Brian Negin)

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.

Meir Margolit, a Jerusalem city councillor and a member of the Jerusalem-based NGO the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told EUobserver in a phone interview on Wednesday (8 December) that the EU should impose economic sanctions over the settlements if it wants Israel to take it seriously.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"It's clear they [the EU] are not doing anything. They are waiting for instructions from the US. It makes me very angry - they are accomplices to the Netanyahu government. If they don't do something, and I am talking about sanctions, then history will not forgive them," he said, referring to the right-wing Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Margolit, who contributes research to an annual report on settlements drafted by the EU's embassies to the Palestinian Authority, said EU personnel regularly leak the paper as part of their Israel diplomacy.

"They have got the information, but they don't know what to do with it. To publish it is not enough," he explained.

The EU paper was leaked in 2008 and 2009. On Wednesday, French news agency Agence France Presse reported that the 2010 edition says: "If current trends are not stopped as a matter of urgency, the prospect of East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state becomes increasingly unlikely and unworkable." It added that efforts to promote the Jewish identity of the city over its Arab roots could "radicalise the conflict, with potential regional and global repercussions."

As in 2008 and 2009, the paper recommended that: EU diplomats in the region should host Palestinian officials without Israeli security corteges; discourage EU tour operators from patronising settler hotels; and turn up physically to support Palestinian families who risk eviction or demolition of their homes.

Meanwhile, one of several recent public statements on the subject by EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton on 9 November said: "Catherine Ashton is extremely concerned by the announcement by Israel of a plan for the construction of 1,300 new housing units in East Jerusalem."

Mr Margolit said that settlement expansion, especially in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan districts near the Old City in Jersualem, was accelerated after the election of President Barack Obama in the US due to fears amid settlers that he will push through a peace deal including final borders.

"If the government approves recent building plans [by settler groups], the Palestinians will lose Sheikh Jarrah for ever," he explained. "The situation is becoming irreversible. In one or two years at most, the most sensitive places in East Jerusalem will become Israeli. The Palestinians are being pushed out."

Some leading Jewish commentators, such as Rabbi David Rosen, the director of inter-religious affairs at the Washington-based American Jewish Congress, agree with Mr Margolit that religiously-motivated Jewish settlers are one of the biggest obstacles to peace. Mr Rosen said in an interview with EUobserver in November that pursuit of land amounts to "idolatry" in some cases.

The Israeli foreign ministry for its part says that Jerusalem, the eastern part of which Israel annexed following a war with neighbouring states in 1967, is the "indivisible" capital of the country and is not open to any negotiations.

The US earlier this week gave up on demands for Israel to extend its freeze on settlement expansion, auguring badly for the re-launch of Israel-Palestine peace talks suspended in September.

Behind-the-scene attempts by senior German national security advisor, Christoph Heusgen, in December last year to make a deal with the US to block settlements in return for Berlin blocking an anti-Israeli report in the UN also led nowhere.

"He suggested pressuring Netanyahu by linking favorable UNSC [UN Security Council] treatment of the Goldstone Report to Israel committing to a complete stop in settlement activity. [US diplomat] Gordon said that making a direct linkage between the two would almost certainly be counterproductive, but agreed that it was worth pointing out to the Israelis that their policy on settlements was making it difficult for their friends to hold the line in the UNSC," a leaked US cable on the subject said.

Correction: the original text said Israel annexed Jerusalem in the 1967 war, in fact only the eastern part was taken over in the conflict

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.

Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey

The Swedish government has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen with Kurdish roots wanted for credit card fraud to Turkey, amid the backdrop of Turkey's Nato threat.

Opinion

EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive

The EU needs to be clear eyed about China's new diplomatic charm offensive, as it's more likely driven by short-term necessity than any fundamental policy re-assessment.

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Beijing's club was meant to forge stronger European relations. Lithuania left it last year. Now Estonia and Latvia have also decided to walk over Chinese bullying.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us