EU's reverence for the PA: Old habits die hard - opinion

European countries have a historic knack for judging Jews, restricting Jews to specific pales of settlement, and labeling them – while lauding their enemies.

 SVEN KUHN von Burgsdorff, head of the European Union’s mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, visits Gaza City, last week.  (photo credit: ATTIA MUHAMMED/FLASH90)
SVEN KUHN von Burgsdorff, head of the European Union’s mission to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, visits Gaza City, last week.
(photo credit: ATTIA MUHAMMED/FLASH90)

This week, the European Union ambassador, and diplomats from 19 European countries demanded answers from the Palestinian Authority regarding a long series of severe human rights violations, egregious police moves against political opponents, and Palestinian assaults on the cause of peace.

They demonstrably showed up in one united group at Mahmoud Abbas’ Muqata headquarters in Ramallah to protest the raid by PA police on student dorms at Bir Zeit University, part of an ongoing assault by Palestinian stormtroopers on Abbas’ critics.

Several weeks before, the same diplomatic delegation – all 20 of these oh-so-brave and principled diplomats – protested the PA’s deepening persecution of journalists and human rights activists, many of whom emerge from PA jails, if at all, beaten and appropriately cowed into silence.

And several weeks before that, the bold “EU 20” demanded that the PA halt its pay-for-slay payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families, going as far as threatening to curtail the super-generous EU stipends to the PA unless the latter ended its financial and moral support for the murder of Israeli men, women and children.

They also demanded that PA-controlled television and newspapers – the only type of media that exists in the PA – cease glorifying terrorism and peddling antisemitic conspiracies.

 Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech remotely to the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2021. (credit: JOHN ANGELILLO/POOL/REUTERS) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech remotely to the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2021. (credit: JOHN ANGELILLO/POOL/REUTERS)

Standing outside the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, who daily tells the ugliest lies about Israel and leads the PA’s no-cooperation-with-Israel policy, the EU ambassador and his courageous colleagues rebelliously said that the EU would no longer support the PA’s illegal establishment of settlements in Area C of the West Bank unless Abbas and Shtayyeh began teaching about and promoting peace with Israel.

Speaking forthrightly and with more than a pinch of condescension, the EU 20 warned that unless the PA began working with Israel on basic matters like sewage control and combating road rage, and unless the PA warmed to the blessed Abraham Accords process of peace, all European award stages and aid platforms would soon be withdrawn.

“Europe can no longer tolerate Palestinian defiance of basic international humanitarian norms and of international law, never mind the PA’s support for terrorism and Hamas’s missile attacks on Israel,” snorted Josep Borrell, the European Union external action service high representative and vice president, speaking from Brussels.

“The EU is deeply concerned by the raids on student dorms that took place in the morning of August 23 and the measures that followed them including arrests and interrogations, as part of a worrying reduction of space for civil society in the Palestinian Authority. These actions are not acceptable.

“A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for a two-state solution. The EU is committed to its continued support to civil society that contributes to this purpose and to confidence building between Israelis and Palestinians. It stands firm with non-governmental organizations to uphold the right to freedom of expression and association in the PA.”

Fact and fiction

BUT OF course, none of this really happened. It’s just my make-believe copywriting. No European Union ambassador or high representative or vice president said any of these things, nor did any 20-person strong EU delegation of ambassadors show up at the Muqata in Ramallah, at any time over the past year, to grunt even the mildest of disapproval regarding PA policies supporting terrorism and opposing peace.

Instead, this week, European Union Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev and diplomats from 19 European countries insolently marched up to Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, in one cheeky delegation, to demand explanations about last week’s IDF raid of the offices of seven Palestinian non-governmental organizations that Israel has classified as terror groups.

The European diplomats impudently declared they did not accept Israel’s terror designation, barking that they had not received “any evidence” to validate that claim.

“The EU is deeply concerned by the raids on six Palestinian civil society organizations that took place in the morning of August 18 and the measures that followed them, including arrests and interrogations of staff members of these organizations, as part of a worrying reduction of space for civil society in the oPt.” (oPt, or “occupied Palestinian territories,” is the derogatory term used by the EU for Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.)

“These actions are not acceptable,” decreed Borrell and later Tzantchev on behalf of the brave and brazen EU 20.

“A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for a two-state solution. The EU is committed to its continued support to civil society that contributes to this purpose and to confidence-building between Israelis and Palestinians. It stands firm with non-governmental organizations to uphold the right to freedom of expression and association in the oPt.”

In other words, not only do the plucky, impartial, expert and high-minded European diplomats know better than Israel about the inner workings and plotting of al-Haq, Addameer, the Bisan Center, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UWAC), Health Workers Committee, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees – but they defiantly are going to continue bankrolling these agencies.

Despite the plentiful open-source information that links these “human rights” groups to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is formally designated as terrorist by the US, Canada, and the EU, the Europeans intend to “take all necessary action to support and protect Palestinian human rights defenders and ensure the continuation of their invaluable work.”

The reality on the ground

THE ISRAELI government and real human rights organizations like NGO Monitor clearly have demonstrated that the outlawed groups “constitute a network of organizations active undercover on the international front on behalf of the PFLP to support its activity and to further its goals.”

The foreign government funding received by these groups has been utilized to pay “martyr” wages for activists, for PFLP activity in Jerusalem, and for distribution of the organization’s messages and ideology. And there are at least 70 Palestinian staff and board members who hold positions in both the NGOs and the PFLP.

Just one example: The 50-person strong PFLP terror cell responsible for the murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb, among others, included numerous members of these same government-funded NGOs. For instance, UAWC’s “accountant,” Samir Irbid, was responsible for commanding the PFLP terror cell that carried out the bombing.

It is therefore both laughable and intolerable that European governments are decrying the Israeli decision to designate the groups as terrorist supporters. European politicians and government bureaucrats have known for years that the six organizations have links to the PFLP terror group.

The even worse dirty European secret is that these groups, whether you might consider them “terrorist-supporting” or not, are the worst anti-Israel actors, who have vehemently attacked Israel, every minute of the day, as an “apartheid state,” “war criminal enterprise,” and “illegal entity” going back to 1948. It’s clear that they seek the complete dissolution of Israel. That, of course, hasn’t stopped the EU from investing heavily in them.

Overall, the European behavior described above – insolence toward Israel alongside reverence for Palestinians – explains why Palestinian leaders do not understand that they will have to compromise to reach an agreement with Israel. On the contrary. The Palestinians can safely assume that their demand for a state on the 1967 lines (or thereabouts) is absolute “revealed truth,” and in the meantime, they can rely on the EU to isolate, vilify, boycott and criminalize Israel.

Meanwhile, dictating impatiently to Israel is in vogue. Therefore, for example, the EU is single-mindedly determined to put a stop to the real fronts of radicalism – like EU scholarships for Hebrew University students who live in Efrat or Ma’aleh Adumim. After all, these students, and their professors (who might also, God forbid, live in the Old City of “oPt” Jerusalem), are the more salient threats to peace in the region.

The EU is perfectly happy to continue lavishing funds on the most anti-Israel “human rights” groups like the seven listed above, but EU commissars are determined not to indirectly fund any more scientific research or to abet productive commercial activity by Israelis who live or work over the Green Line. They won’t allow wine or plastic chairs produced in Judea and Samaria to be sold in Paris or Brussels without a yellow star of Jewish “occupation” opprobrium.

In the warped weltanschauung of the European Union, it is logical to diss Israel – in 20-person-strong ambassadorial mobs up in Jerusalem – while coddling the Palestinians. Old habits, it seems, die hard. European countries have a historic knack for judging Jews, restricting Jews to specific pales of settlement, and labeling them – while lauding their enemies.

The writer is a senior fellow at The Kohelet Forum and in the research department of Habithonistim: Israel’s Defense and Security Forum. The views expressed here are his own. His diplomatic, defense, political, and Jewish world columns over the past 25 years are archived at davidmweinberg.com.