The recent United States announcement that it no longer believes the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is “inconsistent with international law” provoked an immediate response internationally, including in Brussels.
Within hours of the US statement, European Union senior foreign affairs official Federica Mogherini issued a statement affirming that the EU’s position “is clear and remains unchanged: all [Israeli] settlement activity is illegal under international law and … erodes the viability of the two-state solution.” Read more
When Israeli authorities last week approved plans for more than 2,000 settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank, the European Union was quick to condemn the move.
“All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” read the statement issued by the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic service.
It went on: “The EU expects the Israeli authorities to fully meet their obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and of denying Palestinian development.” Read more
October 2015 was one of the bloodiest months in Palestine/Israel since the Second Intifada, with 69 Palestinian fatalities (including some 40 attackers or alleged attackers) and 7,392 injuries, along with eight Israeli fatalities and 115 injuries.
The number of Palestinians injured mainly during anti-occupation protests across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was more than for the whole of 2014. 2,887 Palestinians were shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition or rubber-coated metal bullets.
The international guardians of the comatose peace process, however, remained largely on the side-lines, with little ability to influence events on the ground that have ebbed and flowed irrespective of external appeals for ‘calm.’ Read more
British newspaper the Daily Mail last week published an “exclusive” on claims that the EU is “funding illegal West Bank building projects”, a reference to Palestinian structures built without a permit from Israeli occupation authorities.
The Oslo Accords, which Israel has systematically and repeatedly violated, were intended to manage a “transitional period” ending in 1999. Under the terms of the Accords, about 60 percent of the West Bank, so-called “Area C”, remains under Israeli authority today.
The article contends that in helping Palestinians build structures “unauthorised” by Israel, the EU is “acting illegally”. This argument, however, is ignorant of international law, obfuscates the reality on the ground today, and serves to advance a disturbing agenda. Read more
Last week, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen warned on Israeli television that the country would face “increasing isolation” if the peace process collapsed, echoing remarks he made in January about a “price to pay” in terms of boycott and divestment initiatives by European companies. Yet last week also saw the official launch of Israel’s participation in the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme, making it “eligible to compete for €77 billion worth of industrial research grants over seven years”. This juxtaposition is a useful picture of current EU-Israel relations, with close cooperation continuing even as strains have emerged in the context of a troubled peace process and civil society pressure. Read more