Opposing Israeli Occupation

Free-Palestine

The EU must do more to oppose Israel’s Occupation of Palestine, starting by hitting them where it hurts: their economy.

By Alyn Smith

Years have passed since Europe started calling on Israel to end its policy of building illegal settlements in occupied Palestine, to no avail.

The EU’s new Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, said on 5th November that Israel’s decision to build more settlements “seriously calls into questions Israel’s commitment” to peace. But that is what Europe has been saying for over a decade now.

We can even list Europe’s reproaches to Israel: EU Foreign Affairs Ministers declared in 2008 that “settlement activity, including natural growth, must end as a matter of extreme urgency”, the next year they called on Israel to “end all settlement activity and dismantle all outposts since 2001” and in 2010 they reiterated that settlements were “illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace”, yet Israel continued. The 28 member states then announced in 2011 that they “deplored settlement expansion, which runs counter to the Quartet’s efforts”, in 2012 Europe was “strongly opposed the settlement expansion which undermines the peace process”, it again “deplored” more illegal constructions in 2013 and, again, “called on Israel to halt settlement expansion” earlier this year.

The result is damage to Europe’s – and Israel’s – credibility in the region.

Despite this, the Israeli Government is increasing the pace of construction. Since the 1993 Oslo Agreement, in which Palestine and Israel recognized each other’s right to exist, an extra 55,000 homes have been built for new Israeli settlers in Palestine’s occupied territory, thanks to an annual $6 Billion of public Israeli money. Again in full violation of international law, 15,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed, while 11,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem have been forced out since 1993.

Europe’s repeated but mild protestations have failed, and the situation is getting worse.

Today, 4.5 Million Palestinians live in 167 enclaves surrounded by 450km walls and 542 military checkpoints. Israel’s occupation and settlement policies have brought about 45 fully segregated roads; 60 Israeli-only bridges and tunnels; even bus lines are now settlers-only, remeniscent of 1950s America with its whites-only buses. The fact is that segregation is not only shameful, but also questions Israel’s credentials as a liberal democracy.

Following thousands of forced displacements and weekly bulldozing of houses, added to the new Israeli settlements, Palestinians are being stripped of their land but also their crucial access to water. On top of this land grabbing, the UN states that in 2011 alone the Israeli army destroyed 34 cisterns, 21 wells and 89 other water facilities, many of which were funded by Europe’s taxpayers. As a result, while an Israeli consumes 300 litres of water per day on average, a Palestinian barely uses 70 – well below minimum WHO standards.

How will Palestine’s youth perceive their Israeli neighbours as they grow up stripped of their land, water and even freedom to move from one village to another without segregation and daily humiliations?

That’s why I’m asking for an EU-wide labelling of products from Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine. For the same reason, I’ve urged UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to stop blocking Palestine’s access to the International Criminal Court. I have further called on the EU High Representative to publish an update-to-date, public list of EU-funded development and humanitarian projects which have been destroyed by Israel – millions of euros paid by our citizens to provide Palestinians with houses, schools, hospitals and clean water.

I now call on the EU to take bolder action and a bolder stance against Israel’s continued and destructive settlement policy before it is too late. The European Council has failed to voice its concern over Israel’s worsening segregation of Arab Israelis – Muslims, Christians and Atheists. It has condemned repeated settler violence against Palestinians, but is forgetting that the solution is to dismantle Israel’s settlements rather than to push Palestinians further onto the fringes, where there can be no possible peace between Israelis and Arabs – whether in the form of one state or two.

We, as Europeans, hold a historical responsibility for the world’s longest conflict. Europe cannot remain idle; we must take the initiative from the United States and lead a genuine strategy to bring something this region terribly lacks: hope.

Alyn Smith MEP sits on the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. He can be followed on twitter at @AlynSmithMEP



Categories: International

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10 replies

  1. Excellent article which depressingly reminds us of the Zionist gangster state and those who let it all happen. Shame on us all.

  2. I would appreciate joining in with any action we could take to support this position. Suggestions?

  3. Israel’s government and military, sometimes hard to know who is actually in charge, behave as though they are above the law.
    The EU needs to act using International Law to change this – illegal settlements and their expansion, illegal wall/fence/barrier, illegal detention of children, illegal house demolitions…
    What is the use, Alyn, of an EU legal system with no teeth? You are right – time to be bold and bolder.

  4. Many years ago I was pleased to be able to help the Israelis forward their nuclear program to secure their future forever. This a country conceived by the Labour Zionists, the fathers of socialism, the most equal and socialist country in recent human history, the land of Kibbutz.
    This past couple of years I have been able to selectively purchase several million pounds of high technology equipment made in Israel and once again support them in adversity. .
    I’m a Scot and an aetheist with no Jewish heritage but I know Israel is the only secular liberal Gay friendly country in the region, facing the medieval savages of present day Islam and their Sharia culture of misogyny, homophobia, child abuse, repression, bigotry and murder.
    I am frankly amazed by Israeli patience and restraint. When we Brits were faced by comparable evil in Europe we razed Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden and many other cities to the ground, annihilating hundreds of thousands of the enemy, most German civilians having been content to reap the apparent benefits of the Nazi regime. The Gazans voted for Hamas, they are equally culpable for a regime as equally repugnant as anything birthed in Europe, a similar fate would have been appropriate. Like the poison of Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism and Pol Pot nothing less than utter destruction is appropriate. Anything does NOT go.
    Anyone in this country who feels affinity with these aberrations should hold their piece, get out of the armchair and get themselves out to Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or West Iraq and immerse themselves in this wonderful development in (barely) human culture and live it to the bitter end.
    As for the UN and their International rules (sic) over 40 member states are Dictatorships or Islamic Theocracy and the edifice is morally bankrupt.

    • I’m not sure that dismissing the belief system of a quarter of the world’s population is a helpful way forward on the basis of religious extremism, just as I wouldn’t want to condemn Christianity on the basis of the teachings of the Westboro Baptist Church.

      You recommend travelling to the area. Well, I have done just that (have you?) and in my experience the vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East want the same as everyone else – security, employment, a decent family life, and so on. Unfortunately for them and for us, the politics of the area seem to breed a feeling of disenfranchisement which, in the absence of political engagement, too often translates into religious zealotry. I’m now of the firm view that the problems are fundamentally political, not religious. That gives me grounds for hope.

      In the meantime, talk of “utter destruction” only serves to inflame a volatile situation. Who or what do you want to see utterly destroyed?

  5. No one condones the killing of 4 Jews in there place of worship, but when people see the destruction of their homes and infrastructure it is not surprising they lash out in anger and frustration. I am led to believe they had no ties to Hamas but I am sure that Israel’s government will deny this and strike back with a terrible vengeance.

  6. “At this point, the mindless refrain on settlement construction seems to have assumed a life of its own. But anyone who’s serious about addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should ignore the speeches and the rote condemnations, and study the numbers. The vast expansion of Israeli settlements in the future Palestinian state is simply not happening.”

    See here: http://tinyurl.com/ktusc6d

  7. Well, Ellis, unlike you I have no knowledge of the “real” views of “many people like Smith”. All I can address are the facts on the ground, and I notice that you don’t dispute my point.

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