Sunday

25th Jul 2021

Opinion

Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?

  • Goodwill alone is not enough to stop Israel's colonial-settlement enterprise, let alone dismantle it (Photo: ☪yrl)

Only a few hours before the inauguration of US president Joe Biden last week, Israel advanced with thousands of colonial-settlement units.

For Benjamin Netanyahu, it is a step to reassure the new US administration that efforts to halt Israel's illegal settlement enterprise would be futile.

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This step is also taken to prove that any engagement for a negotiated solution that ends Israel's prolonged occupation would be a lost battle.

Both assumptions mean allowing Israel to continue with the annexation process while still denying Palestinian rights, which furthers the implementation of Donald Trump's "vision" - a process that can and must be stopped.

Israel is devising methods now to construct an illegal colonial-settlement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

"Giv'at Hamatos," as it is referred to by Israel, will separate the two cities, dividing the occupied West Bank into two parts: north and south, and isolating East Jerusalem from the rest of occupied Palestine.

No matter how damaging, what is taking place is not a new situation.

It's part of an annexation process that continues after more than half a century, with a relentless colonial-settlement expansion that, as clearly referred to by the International Court of Justice, denies the inalienable Palestinian right to self-determination.

Hence, Israel's confidence is moving ahead with "Giv'at Hamatos," "E1", and other settlement projects, is a testimony of the international community's utter failure to hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of international law and UN resolutions.

In 1996, Netanyahu pushed for constructing the first illegal colonial-settlement, following the signing of the Oslo Interim Agreement.

Jabal Abu Ghneim, a forested mountain with an archeological site in Beit Sahour, became a target of Israel's colonial ambitions, named as "Har Homa."

This settlement was Israel's second effort to isolate Bethlehem from Jerusalem (the first was the illegal settlement of "Gilo" settlement built on lands belonging to Beit Jala in 1971).

The construction of "Har Homa" attests to Israel's goal to destroy any prospect for a negotiated solution based on international legitimacy.

The 1996 scenario remains valid today: the opposition to this new settlement was a matter of broad international consensus - yet no concrete measures were taken.

The US ended up vetoing - twice in two weeks, on two different draft resolutions. (The second time the veto came against a draft presented by the European members of the council).

As a response, the 10th Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly was convened.

During the same period, the US representative stated that "no one should interpret the opposition of my government to this draft resolution as an expression of support for the construction now going on at Har Homa/Jabal Abu Ghneim. It is not. We have repeatedly stated our belief that construction at this site is not helpful to the peace process".

In reality, the US ended up green lighting settlement construction, as it was unwilling to use any of its pressure tools to prevent it.

Washington's consistent and unconditional financial and political support became one of Israel's principal calculations to more than double the number of settlers since they vetoed this resolution.

Today, over 20,000 Jewish settlers live in Jabal Abu Ghneim alone. The learned lesson: goodwill alone is not enough to stop Israel's colonial-settlement enterprise, let alone dismantle it.

Will the EU learn?

Will the European Union and its member states finally learn this lesson?

A few hours after 16 European diplomatic representations met with Israeli officials to call for stopping settlement expansion, Israel moved ahead with its illegal plans - particularly the new colonialist developments between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Will the EU and the new US administration allow this new Israeli settlement project to become the new "Jabal Abu Ghneim"?

From the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion in 2004, affirming the illegality of the construction of the Wall, and the need to dismantle it and make reparation for the damage caused, to the UN Security Council resolution 2334, and beyond, the international community has been well-reminded of their legal obligations.

Europe cannot continue acting as if they have no tools to confront the war crimes of the Israeli occupation.

Europe must decide and implement concrete measures against this illegal Israeli enterprise, including banning settlement products, preventing any funding of settlements and their related organisations, as well as taking concrete steps on companies collaborating with this process.

The EU-Israel Association Agreement, and Israel's systematic violation of its article 2, must be stopped until Israel implements its obligations under international law. This should not be a matter of controversy, but the least peace-loving countries must do to preserve rules-based world order.

The Trump Administration attempted to erase every legal terminology from the international lexicon to normalise Israeli crimes and incentivise its ongoing annexation process.

Reverting such steps is necessary for the new US administration if they oppose settlements, annexation, and support a two-state solution according to what was said during their election campaign.

If it continues not to be held accountable for its illegal practices, policies, and crimes, Israel will implement the annexation process, destroying the prospect of a negotiated settlement.

The only primary approach for the US administration, Europeans, and Arab countries to change that course of action is to call on Israel to abide scrupulously by provisions of international law and UN resolutions.

Such illegal conduct will bring consequences, including sanctions.

The world cannot continue ignoring its responsibilities when it comes to Palestine.

Author bio

Dr Nasser Al Qudwa is a former foreign affairs minister of Palestine and Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, and chairman of the board of directors of Yasser Arafat Foundation and member of the central committee of Fatah.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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