Saturday

24th Jun 2017

Opinion

Time for EU to put real pressure on Israel

  • Israeli soldiers on patrol in occupied Hebron, West Bank (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

Times are very rough for both Israeli and Palestinian families. The death toll in Gaza currently stands at some 240 people, of whom dozens are children. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. A Palestinian youth from Jerusalem was burned alive by Jewish extremists.

Dangerous and violent racism against Arab Israeli citizens encouraged by Israeli ministers and parliament members leads to riots in the streets, breeds aggression and severe discrimination against Palestinians, along with a new aggression against peace activists.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Israel is currently suffering from an unprecedented social and economic crisis. The single source for this crisis is Israel’s destructive occupation. The occupation has raised two generations of Palestinians as prisoners jailed between military checkpoints and walls.

The two generations of Israelis who believe that they are the lords of the land, are nurtured by the illusion that the oppression of 4.5 million Palestinians gives them security and peace, and that such an oppressive society is capable of raising compassionate children. Therefore they are shocked when their boys become ruthless killers, as is revealed by current events.

One of the most dominant and disastrous expressions of the occupation is the settlement project in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which is illegal under international law.

The settlements allow Israel to take control of Palestinians’ natural resources in violation of international law, to strengthen its presence in the territories, and to make the occupation irreversible.

Despite agreements, international resolutions and Israeli promises, the settlements are expanding. All the while, Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and so-called ‘Area C’ (61% of the West Bank, under full Israeli control) are constantly destroyed.

While water flows in the settlements without limitation, Palestinian villages live under a cruel water regime, as was recently pointed out by the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, during a speech he made before the Israeli parliament. Many roads are closed to Palestinians and the restriction of movement is unbearable.

To this day, the international community has not done enough to stop Israeli settlements. European countries have profoundly criticised them while continuing to co-operate fully with Israel, economically, politically and militarily. As a result, Israel does not pay any price for seriously violating international law. On the contrary, Europe also pays for much of the humanitarian damage of the occupation, making it even easier for Israel to maintain.

A year ago, the EU made a small step in the right direction: guidelines were issued prohibiting EU institutions to fund or to finance research organizations and activities in the settlements. Twenty European countries have published formal warnings to their citizens and companies regarding trade and financial relations with the settlements.

And yet, these measures do not seriously challenge Israeli policy in occupied Palestine. Europe could do much better as illustrated by its harsh response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

It took the EU a few weeks – not years – to make its stance against Russian actions crystal clear. Just this week the EU has taken a further bold step in suspending the funding of new public-sector projects in Russia by the EU's lending institution, the European Investment Bank. This is in addition to the previous decision to ban the import of Crimean goods, and to impose targeted sanctions on both Russian and Ukrainian officials and on business firms operating in Crimea.

Israel controls millions of Palestinians under an ongoing military occupation, claiming that this situation is "temporary". However, a military occupation of 47 years, which includes the establishment of settlements, cannot be described as “temporary”.

As an Israeli longing for peace and justice, I believe Europe has to contain the settlement policy with greater determination and more concrete measures.

The world increasingly understands the threat that the settlements pose to peace and stability in the region. Over time, neither Palestinians nor Israelis can survive without freedom and independence for the Palestinians. Already, the undemocratic character of the state of Israel is increasingly transforming it into an apartheid state.

For the two nations living in this region, there is a joint and real interest in ending the Israeli occupation as a precondition for peace. We, the citizens of Israel and the stateless people of Palestine, cannot bring this about on our own. We need the help of the international community at large and of the EU in particular.

As a laureate of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Human Rights, and as a mother and a human being, I call on the EU to use all the diplomatic and economic tools at its disposal to help save my country from the abyss of eternal occupation and injustice.

The writer is a teacher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the 2001 Sakharov Prize Laureate, and the co-founder of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine

A positive agreement for Greece

The outcome of the Eurogroup meeting this week leaves a positive footprint, setting the basis for the Greek economy to exit the vicious circle of austerity and debt.

Britain preparing to jump off a cliff

Following the poor performance of Theresa May's Conservatives in the recent UK general election, her prospects of negotiating a good Brexit deal have gone from bad to worse.

Are MEPs too 'free' to be accountable?

The European Parliament is currently fine-tuning its negotiating position on the Commission's proposal from September 2016 for a mandatory transparency register. Sadly, so far it seems to prefer empty statements to bold action.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Social Services ConferenceDriving Innovation in the Social Sector I 26-28 June
  2. Dialogue PlatformMuslims Have Unique Responsibility to Fight Terror: Opinon From Fethullah Gülen
  3. EUSEW17Check out This Useful Infographic on How to Stay Sustainable and Energy Efficient.
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Criticises the Juncker Plan's Implementation
  5. The Idealist QuarterlyDoes Europe Really Still Need Feminism? After-Work Chat on 22 June
  6. EUSEW17Create an Energy Day Event Before the End of June. Join the Call for Clean Energy
  7. UNICEF1 in 5 Children in Rich Countries Lives in Relative Income Poverty, 1 in 8 Faces Food Insecurity
  8. International Partnership for Human Rights26 NGOs Call on Interpol Not to Intervene Versus Azerbaijani Human Rights Defenders
  9. Malta EU 2017Significant Boost in Financing for SMEs and Entrepreneurs Under New Agreement
  10. World VisionYoung People Rise up as EU Signs Consensus for Development at EU Development Days
  11. ILGA-EuropeLGBTI Activists and Businesses Fighting Inequality Together
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Prime Ministers Respond to Trump on Paris Agreement