Critical EU paper draws fire from Israeli officials

Diplomatic sources criticize authors of report slamming Israeli policies in W. Bank for not turning to Jerusalem for any input.

European foreign ministers ahead of EU meeting 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Thierry Roge)
European foreign ministers ahead of EU meeting 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Thierry Roge)
Israeli diplomatic sources on Thursday slammed another EU internal report highly critical of Israeli policies, saying it will make the Europeans “feel good about themselves” but have no affect on the ground.
The sources also criticized the authors of the report for not turning to Jerusalem for any input.
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The document, titled “Area C and Palestinian State Building,” was leaked to the press and concluded, according to a report on Thursday in The Independent, that a range of Israeli actions in Area C of the West Bank “continuously undermined” the Palestinian population and was “closing the window” for reaching a two-state solution.
The Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three areas of civil and security control.
While Areas A and B fall under various levels of Palestinian control, Israel maintains full control over Area C, which represents some 62 percent of the territory, but is mostly rural and includes only 6% of the Palestinian population.
Saying that the Jewish population in Area C was increasing due to settlement activities and that the Palestinian population was decreasing due to bureaucratic and security measures, the document stated that “if current trends are not stopped and reversed, the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders seems more remote than ever.”
“At a certain point, the Europeans are going to have to engage Israel, and not only the Palestinians, when they write these reports,” one Israeli source said in response. “It’s as if Israel does not exist, does not have its own version of events, reality, reasons, policy, or policy-making process.”
The source was scathing in his criticism of the methodology used in drawing up the report. It consisted of the EU and the Palestinians talking to themselves and then coming to conclusions that were belied by the situation on the ground, he said. The source cited as an example the report’s assertion that Israel was harming Palestinian water resources.
The document, drawn up by the heads of EU country missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, called for increased European support for the “ever more isolated” Palestinians in Area C, which includes most of the Jordan Valley. It said there were now 150,000 Palestinians living there, as opposed to 200,000 to 320,000 who lived in the Jordan Valley before 1967. The report put the Jewish population in Area C at 310,000.
The document, according to the Independent, suggested that the EU support the building of infrastructure in the area for the Palestinians, call on Israel to halt the demolition of Palestinian building taking place there without permits, and be more assertive in objecting to “involuntary population movements, displacements, evictions and internal migration.”
The document followed by just a few weeks another internal EU paper that infuriated Jerusalem, this one saying that the EU should engage with Israel over its treatment of its Israeli Arab minority.
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem pointed out that these papers and documents did not represent EU policy, but rather reflected ideas that were later discussed in Brussels, but often not implemented as official EU positions. The importance of these documents, one source said, was that they provided a window into what European diplomats involved with the issue were thinking.
In late December the Foreign Ministry harshly reproved criticism of settlement activities articulated in a statement put out by the EU’s four members on the UN Security Council: Britain, France, Germany and Portugal. By focusing on Israel instead of larger problems in the Middle East, the ministry said, the European powers were “bound to lose their credibility and make themselves irrelevant.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.