Europe is a Weenie on Palestine

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Europe is a Weenie on Palestine

Protesters in France march in support of Palestine. (Photo: Farfahinne/cc/flickr)

It’s amazing that at this late date, the European Union, in secret, is considering, upping its disapproval of Israel’s occupation policies, drawing, perhaps, some redlines, that don’t even pretend to free Palestinians or bring about a Palestinian state. Don’t these ostensibly subversive EU Israel-Palestine policy wonks understand that their confidential considerations would actually enable Israel’s continued occupation?

Perhaps this is the reason these highly confidential discussions have been leaked.

The redline policy the EU is considering and reported by Haaretz is about forcing Israel not to foreclose the very distant and ill-defined possibility of a Palestinian state. Listen to the policies being considered that seem so exclusive they can’t yet be seen in the light of day:

According to current EU policy, any upgrading or development of ties to Israel is conditioned on actions it might carry out to advance the peace process and the two-state solution. The principle in the new document is that the EU will respond with sanctions and restrict its ties with Israel in response to actions that could make the two-state solution impossible.

European diplomats familiar with the document say it discusses Israeli actions that would constitute a red line for the EU. For example, it mentions advancement of construction in the E1 area between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem; construction of the Givat Hamatos neighborhood and additional construction in Har Homa south of Jerusalem, both of which are over the Green Line in Jerusalem. The EU believes that such construction puts at risk territorial contiguity of the Palestinian state and might make it impossible for Jerusalem to be the capital of both states.

Sanctions mentioned by the document include marking products manufactured in the settlements in EU supermarkets; limiting cooperation with Israel in various areas; and even restrictions on the free-trade agreement with Israel.

Quite explosive, indeed, limiting the upgrading of trade and even, God knows, levying tariffs on Israeli settlement goods! Not discussed, the EU and individual European countries buying security and military technologies from Israel or, in fact, restricting trade and other cooperation with Israel proper.

With Gaza still awaiting reconstruction with goods bought from Israel, yet another series of confidential documents and anonymous leaks documenting this strange confluence of destruction/construction, sarcasm is in order. The level of hypocrisy is cautionary, if not outrageous.

So far Europe has been unwilling to sacrifice even its Middle Eastern policy ties with the United States, let alone assert its own vaunted EU foreign policy values on behalf of Palestinians. That the threat to Israel would become a huge international firestorm if the secret deliberations became public, passed and implemented, is also telling.

Unasked is what these sanctions would mean on the ground. Forbidding foreclosure of a two-state solution that everyone knows has already been foreclosed isn’t bold at all. Such a debate and policies if implemented would only buy Israel more time to consolidate its occupation.

Perhaps the EU’s not-so-secret deliberations are really about forcing Israel to finalize what is left over from Israel’s expansion – a truncated, dependent, Israel-Egypt-United Nations-NATO occupied Palestinian autonomy.

Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is an author, liberation theologian, and Associate Fellow to the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University for Peace, Costa Rica.

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