August 15, 2013
Dear Vice President and High Representative Ashton, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner De Gucht, and Commissioner Tajani,
We are writing both to commend the Commission for the recently published Guidelines on the territorial limitation of grants, prizes and financial instruments relating to Israel, funded by the EU from 2014 onwards, and to urge you to withstand the efforts of the Israeli Government to nullify their effect.
Not only do the Guidelines implement long-standing EU policy not to recognize the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, they also create long-needed adverse consequences for Israel if the Israeli government continues its policy of refusing to negotiate a solution to the conflict along the internationally legitimate parameters. They quite justifiably put Israel in the position of either accepting the precedent that it has no sovereign rights in any part of the Occupied Territories or foregoing any further important integration into the EU.
The effectiveness of the Guidelines is self-evident from the Israeli government’s strong reaction against them. The paucity of the Israeli arguments is also self-evident. Two examples will suffice to demonstrate.
Firstly, Israeli spokesmen argued that applying the Guidelines would hurt Palestinians. This is of course the same argument that the Apartheid government of South Africa used against the international boycott movement against South African produce and the growing reluctance of international business to invest in South Africa. In the end, those growing actions, along with the sporting boycott, caused the demise of Apartheid.
Secondly, Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed that the Guidelines will encourage the Palestinians to demand the impossible. Well, this gets full marks for chutzpah but zero marks for honesty. There is nothing impossible in the PLO’s positions. The 1967 borders with an agreed, equal land swap, sharing Jerusalem, the refugee issue, and fair division of the shared aquifers are all possible. Some of them will certainly be difficult for Israel, but the Palestinians should not be made to continue suffering because of Israel’s difficulties of its own making.
We know that you will be subject to all the usual Israeli manipulation of guilt for what some European countries did 75 years ago but which has been repudiated long since in words and deeds. Individuals will also be subject to disreputable pressure. We urge you to withstand all this and maintain the Guidelines in their entirety. By doing so you will gain the respect of decent people all over the world and you will be making a massive contribution to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Addendum to this letter lists the steady stream of measures taken by the previous and present Israel governments which indicate that they had and have no intention of voluntarily negotiating a solution along the internationally legitimate lines. The settlement announcements of the past week are but the most recent. We have attached the letter we e-mailed on 24 July 2012, whose arguments still apply today, and a brief description of our organization.
Dror Feiler, Chair of EJJP and Judar for Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred (Stockholm), Board Member of the EJJP Foundation
Arthur Goodman, Parliamentary and Diplomatic Officer, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (London)
Max Wieselmann, Board Member of the EJJP Foundation, Director of Een Ander Joods Geluid (Amsterdam)
c.c. Helga Schmid, Waldemar Kutt, Lora Borrisova, Sylvia Bartolini, Leonello Gabrici, Martijn Hendriksen, Jack Metthey, Wolfgang Burtscher, John Bell, , Palayo.Castro-Zuzuarrequi, Bernard Bulcke, St. John Gould.
Israeli government actions mid June 2011 – May 2013, indicating it does not intend to negotiate an end to the occupation along the internationally legitimate lines
(A) Prime Minister Netanyahu’s letter to President Obama in June 2011
Mr. Netanyahu refused to accept the long-established international parameters for resolving the conflict. He said that the settlement blocks must be annexed to Israel, that Israel must maintain a long-term security presence in the Jordan Valley, and that Jerusalem is off the negotiating table. We believe this is the first time since Oslo that an Israeli Prime Minister has dropped the obfuscation about their intentions for the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
(B) Settlement expansion in Ariel, Shilo, Har Homa, announced in March-August 2011
These settlements are among the most dangerous to the creation of a Palestinian state. Ariel extends eastward half way across the West Bank. Shilo is much further east and is the main part of a dense group of settlements and outposts extending from Ariel to the Jordan Valley. Together, Ariel, Shilo and the associated settlements and outposts would destroy contiguity between the northern and central parts of the West Bank. Har Homa largely blocks contiguity between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, both of which are essential to a Palestinian state. East Jerusalem is the Palestinians’ traditional commercial and cultural centre, while Bethlehem is holy to all Christians, and particularly to Palestinian Christians.
(C) Quartet request for negotiating proposals from the PLO and Israel
In September 2011, the Quartet asked both the PLO and Israel to submit proposals for negotiations. The PLO complied within three weeks, submitting proposals for borders, a limited land swap, and security arrangements including an international pace-keeping force on the Israeli border and in the Jordan Valley. Israel, while initially welcoming the Quartet initiative, subsequently refused to comply, saying it would only negotiate directly and confidentially with the PLO.
(D) Resource extraction in Area C of the West Bank
In December 2011, the Israeli High Court rejected a petition challenging the legality of the use of natural resources extracted by 11 Israeli companies quarrying and mining in Area C of the occupied West Bank. This activity has been underway since the 1970s, but this is the first time it has been explicitly endorsed by the High Court. Some 12 m. tons p.a. is extracted, of which 94% is used for sale in Israel. The remainder is sold to Palestinian companies. The profits go to the mining companies, which remit a small part to the Israeli Civil Administration of the OPT. None goes to the Palestinian Authority.
The Laws of Occupation, as established by The Hague Convention, prohibit an occupying power from using property, including natural resources, in the occupied territory for its own use, except as may be “required by imperative military necessity”. The extraction, and the Court ruling, are clearly contrary to this basic customary principle of international law. They also demonstrate this Israeli government’s intention to continue using Palestinian natural resources.
(E) Settlement Outposts
In April 2012, a far-reaching decision was taken by an Israeli government Ministerial Committee which significantly extends settlement expansion in the West Bank. The Committee approved the legalization of three settlement outposts, Sansea, Ruchana and Bruchin. Once planning procedure is approved, they will be fully “legal” under Israeli law.
The significance of these approvals is twofold. Firstly, it is the first time an Israeli government has approved legalizing an outpost. Previously, Israeli governments simply left the outposts in limbo. They were not approved by the government, but nevertheless were provided with infrastructure and services. Since the Oslo II Agreement in 1996, official settlement building, i.e. approved by the Israeli government and therefore legal under Israeli law, has always been by expanding existing settlements. Secondly, none of the three outposts is in a large settlement that might become part of Israel in a land swap, or in the built-up area of any existing settlement, and two are far from the Green Line.
The implication of these approvals is clear: the Israeli government is no longer going to pretend that it is only expanding in the large settlements near the Green Line. It is a marker of its intention to keep large parts of the West Bank. The Financial Times (editorial attached), among other newspapers, has come to the same conclusion, and has also acknowledged that other countries must ”go beyond mere rhetorical condemnation” of Israel’s actions.
Note on settlements and outposts
Settlements are Jewish communities that Israel officially established after 1967 on Palestinian land occupied in the Six-Day War. Today, there are 120 settlements in the West Bank and 12 (called neighbourhoods by the Israeli government) in East Jerusalem. There are some 290,000 settlers in the West Bank and 190,000 in East Jerusalem. The Government of Israel has invested and continues to invest heavily in the construction and defence of settlements. Outposts are settlements “unofficially” established since the 1990s. In order to avoid political and international obligations, Israel calls them “illegal” or
“unauthorized” outposts. There are now 99, with over 4,000 settlers living in them. At rare intervals, a rudimentary outpost, consisting of mobile homes, is removed by the IDF, only to be re-erected by the settlers nearby. All settlements and outposts are illegal under international law because they are in occupied land.
(F) Tenders issues for 92 new housing units in Male Adumim, October 2012
Maale Adumim, like Ariel, extends deep into the West Bank and is equally dangerous to the creation of a Palestinian state. The Maale Adumim municipal area abuts the Jordan Valley, and the currently planned wall almost abuts it. That would all but destroy contiguity between the central and southern West Bank.
(G) Announcement of several settlement expansions and/or new settlement building, some at an early stage of approval, others at a later stage. December 2012. This was a “punishment” for the PLO’s successful application for upgrading in the UN.
The plans listed are the most significant among the announcements in creating obstacles to establishing a Palestinian state.
E1: 3,400+ housing units. E1 lies between East Jerusalem and Maale Adumim. Except for a police station and some infrastructure, no building has taken place there yet. Planning has been frozen since 1993 on the insistence of the United States. If it is constructed, E1 will complete the separation of the east side of East Jerusalem from the West Bank. Together with the expansion of Maale Adumim eastwards, it would completely destroy contiguity between the central and southern West Bank.
Givat Hamatos A, B & C: 4,000+ housing units. This would complete the isolation of East Jerusalem from Bethlehem and the Southern parts of the West Bank, and specifically isolate the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Zafafa.
Gilo: some 2,500 housing units. Gilo is north of Bethlehem and blocks Bethlehem’s urban development northward. The new units would be on the south side of Gilo and would therefore exacerbate the blockage.
Karnei Shomron, Imanuel, Geva Binyamin and Efrat, nearly 500 housing units: These are all existing settlements far from the Green Line, never included in any potential land swap.
(H) Further Settlement Outpost legalizations
On 14 May 2013, the government declared its intention to “legalise” four further settlement outposts Ma’ale Rehavam, Haroeh, Givat Assaf, and Mitzpe Lachshish. Three of these outposts are in isolated areas, not part of any potential land swap. The fourth, Givat Assaf, is a satellite of the Beit El settlement. Depending on exactly where it is, it could be included in one of the potential 1:1 land swaps. (Section E above describes the first outpost legalizations and explains the significance of “legalizing” outposts.)
28 May 2013