The EU’s hypocritical, patronizing attitude toward Israel

One wonders why the EU did not view the recent declarations by the Palestinian leadership canceling the territorial division between areas A, B and C in a similar light.

By
October 3, 2019 22:42
ISRAEL’S PRIME Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with European Union foreign policy chief Fed

ISRAEL’S PRIME Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium in 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The curious article in The Jerusalem Post (“Peace needs international law and political will,” September 21), by European Union Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Susanna Terstal, is indicative of a serious and worrying lack of awareness as well as considerable possible ignorance by the EU as to the legal and political realities inherent in the peace process.

The EU representative evidently believes that incessant repetition of the phrase “two-state solution” adds some element of legitimacy and feasibility to the idea. But the two-state solution has never been agreed-upon between Israel and the Palestinians, and does not figure in any of the agreements between them. It is nothing more than an expression of wishful thinking within the UN and the EU.

To the contrary, the Oslo Accords, to which the EU itself is a signatory, clearly leaves the issue of the permanent status of the territories to be decided in negotiations. The accords do not predetermine the outcome of the negotiations. Thus, whether the outcome will be one, two or three states, or a federation or confederation, remains on the negotiating table. This cannot be dictated by the EU, however much they might be enamored with the idea of a two-state solution.

By incessantly plying a two-state solution, the EU is in fact prejudging an agreed negotiating issue and going against its own responsibilities as a signatory to the Oslo Accords.

In referring to electioneering suggestions by Israeli leaders to “apply sovereignty,” the EU representatives complain that unilateral modification of the Oslo Accords “undermines the entire agreement” and “dismantles Oslo.”

One wonders why the EU did not view the recent declarations by the Palestinian leadership canceling the territorial division between areas A, B and C in a similar light. Did this not undermine the accords?

Similarly, where was the EU when the Palestinian foreign minister formally declared in Japan that the Palestinians had no intention of returning to negotiations with Israel?

One may ask also whether, in the eyes of the EU, the unilateral detachment of the Gaza Strip by Hamas from the rest of the territories, and the rejection of the agreements with Israel, did not similarly undermine and dismantle the agreements.

The fact that the Palestinian leadership proudly pays salaries to terrorists (and their families) who have killed Israelis – in clear violation of Palestinian obligations in the Oslo Accords, as well as in other international counter-terrorism conventions and resolutions – does not appear to concern the EU representative to the peace process. But despite all this, the EU representative chose to discriminate by accusing Israel of undermining and dismantling the Oslo Accords.

Optimistically, one may give some credit to the EU representative for expressing support for “a negotiated agreement which may include land swaps.” But she surprisingly goes on to contradict herself by prejudicially rehashing the Palestinian propaganda line referring to a “Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines.”

SINCE THE issue of borders is an agreed-upon permanent-status negotiating issue, and is even called for by UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), supported by the European countries, her presumption of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines clearly contradicts and prejudges both the Oslo Accords and Resolution 242.

The repeated references by the EU representative to the “illegality of settlements” may well be accepted EU political policy, but they are not necessarily compatible with the legal position consistently maintained by Israel, as they have apparently been summarily rejected by the EU. More importantly, they ignore that the issue of settlements is a further agreed-upon negotiating issue on the permanent-status negotiating table.

But this has not prevented the EU from unilaterally imposing partisan limitations and sanctions on Israeli companies, academic institutions, social projects and villages located in the territories, thereby prejudging the permanent-status issue.

One therefore wonders why the EU chooses to prejudge an additional negotiating issue with biased and partisan policies while claiming it does not take sides.

Finally, Terstal reminds readers that the EU “reference point of international law is not limited to the Israel Palestinian conflict.”

This statement is patently hypocritical and patronizing.

The EU has never applied international law to the Turkish occupation and settlement activity in Northern Cyprus. It has not applied international law to other situations of occupation and mass settlement activities by Indonesia in East Timor, by Russia in Georgia and Ukraine, and by Vietnam in Cambodia. The EU has even established formal commercial ties with the Moroccan occupation and settlement authorities in the Western Sahara.

In conclusion, the EU cannot in good faith claim that it “does not ‘take sides’ in the conflict.” Similarly, it cannot represent itself as a “partner for Israelis and Palestinians.” This is both misleading and hypocritical, and indicative of the fact that the EU pretends to come with unclean hands.

Realities indicate that the EU has not only taken sides, but clearly that it demonstrates a distinct political bias against Israel in virtually all its positions, policies, statements and dealings regarding the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation process.

As such, the curious article by the EU special representative is misleading and patronizing.

Rather than systematically trying to interfere with and undermine the negotiation process through irresponsible declarations, damaging sanctions and hypocritical and misleading articles in the Israeli media, the EU should better look into its own internal issues and deal with the alarming rise in antisemitism throughout Europe, to which it evidently prefers a blind eye.

No less importantly, the EU should stop shamefully currying favor with, and kowtowing to, an Iranian leadership that repeatedly declares its intention to destroy Israel, rapidly prepares itself to achieve that aim, and sponsors and bankrolls terrorism both in the Middle East as well as on the EU’s own doorstep.

The writer served as legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada. He participated in virtually all peace process negotiations as well as in developing the relationship with the EU. He currently serves as director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs and the International Law Program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.


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