Sunday

27th Nov 2022

EU diplomats: 'Jewish state' is becoming too Jewish

  • Darawshe: 'My family has lived in the same small town for 28 generations and I am never going to leave it for the sake of giving the Jews a 'pure' homeland' (Photo: Johnk85)

EU countries have raised a red flag on Israel's treatment of its Arab minority in a complaint that touches the heart of its identity as a "Jewish state."

The deputy heads of EU embassies in Tel Aviv put forward their concerns in a 27-page-long internal report sent to the European Exernal Action Service (EEAS) earlier this month.

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

The contents were first revealed by Israeli daily Haaretz on Friday (16 December) morning. EUobserver has also seen the "Conclusions" and the "Recommendations" parts of the paper.

The Conclusions were endorsed by all 27 member states. The Recommendations were cut from the final draft because some EU countries objected to the content.

"We should see Israel's treatment of its minorities as a core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We should support the vision for Israel of its founders: Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, in which all its citizens have equal opportunities and are treated equally under law," the Conclusions say.

"In our dialogue with the government of Israel ... we should emphasise that addressing inequality within Israel is integral to Israel's long-term stability," they add.

"We should make the following points clear ... that we do not believe that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state should detract in any way from the vision of equality for all its citizens enshrined in its founding documents; that it is in the interests of all Israelis to demonstrate that Israel is not only Jewish and democratic, but tolerant and inclusive."

The controversial Recommendations made 16 points.

One idea was to nominate a "lead EU country" to monitor "potentially discriminatory draft legislation" and to "agree that approval at the second reading of such legislation [in the Knesset] should trigger an EU demarche."

They also suggested "high-level EU visitors see the Israeli Arab community and its leadership when they visit." They added that EU countries should "lobby" the Israeli government to employ at least 10 percent Israeli Arabs in its civil service and to promote Arabic teaching in schools.

'Shared values'

EU foreign relations spokeswoman Maja Kocjanic confirmed the text is authentic.

"It was prepared for us in order to reflect how we might engage constructively with government and non-government interlocutors in Israel when dealing with an issue identified in the EU-Israeli Action Plan [a 2005 bilateral treaty] as a shared value - the rights of minorities," she said.

Arab Israelis make up 1.5 million of the country's 7.8 million population but have a higher birth rate than Jews. Another 4.4 million Arabs live in Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Mohammad Darawshe, an Arab Israeli activist for the Jersualem-and-New-York-based NGO the Abraham Fund, told EUobserver Israeli laws give "some level of de jure protection" to Arab citizens. But he said "de facto" discrimination is widening the economic gap between Arabs and Jews.

He added that right-wing Jewish groups are steering the country "downhill" in terms of civil liberties: "Israel's charter says it is 'Jewish' and 'democratic' but some Jews are trying to change the defintion to make Jewishness the dominant factor."

Darawshe described a new law passed in March - the Selection Committee Bill, which bans Arabs from buying or renting land in some 500 municipalities - as "ethnic cleansing."

"My family has lived in the same small town [Iksal] for 28 generations and I am never going to leave it for the sake of giving the Jews a 'pure' homeland," he said.

'Irresponsible language'

For his part, Mark Regev, the spokesman of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said any talk of "ethnic cleansing" is "rubbish, rubbish ... no one is being thrown out of their homes, so to use this kind of language is irresponsible."

"Israeli Arabs enjoy full rights within a multi-party democracy with full separation of powers. Where else in the Middle East do Arabs have full freedom of speech, freedom of association?" he added.

Asked by EUobserver about the rights of Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank, Regev said "that is a whole different issue."

EU leaks on Jerusalem not enough, campaigner says

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.

Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem draws EU rebuke

Israel has announced the construction of some 700 apartments in East Jerusalem just a month after the Jewish state proclaimed a freeze in the building of new settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, provoking moderate criticism from the European Union.

Opinion

Israel needs outside 'interference'

It is imperative the EU shows support for Israeli human rights groups under fire from a draft law reminiscent of Apartheid, writes Alon Liel, Israel's former ambassador to South Africa.

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.

Socialists opposed parliament taking Qatar rights stand

The socialists in the European Parliament are leading compromise talks on human rights in Qatar despite voting against putting the issue to a plenary vote. The move comes after the Left demanded that the European Parliament take a stand.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges
  2. The 'proof' problem with EU sanctions — and how to fix it
  3. The EU gas cap: will the bottle ever be 'uncorked'?
  4. Enough talk, only rights can eliminate patriarchal violence
  5. Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'
  6. EU Commission to keep Hungary's EU funds in limbo
  7. 'No substance' price ceiling for gas leaves everyone disgruntled
  8. Paying consumers who save most energy could tame gas prices

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us