September 16, 2013
To the Permanent Representative and the Political Advisor,
Further to our letter of 31 August, we are now writing to you about Secretary of State Kerry’s tactic in asking the European Union to postpone implementing the Guidelines in order to give the peace negotiations a chance by not putting undue pressure on Israel. While at first sight this might seem reasonable, a little reflection shows the logic to be fatally flawed. We would not be surprised to find that Israeli and AIPAC lobbying in Washington is behind it. In fact, it is a grave error. If the EU acquiesces, it would reduce rather than enhance the chances of the negotiations achieving a durable solution to the conflict. The political, legal and moral arguments set out in our previous letter apply directly now.
The essence of the problem is that this Israeli government, like the previous one, wants two contradictory things. It is determined to keep large parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, without giving up any land in return, despite the manifest illegality and injustice of the occupation. Yet at the same time, like all Israeli governments, it craves complete international acceptance, preeminently through continued integration into the European Union for financial, political and – we would say – psychological reasons.
The Guidelines are a very effective means of forcing the Israeli government to make a choice. It can either sign the appropriate memoranda of understanding, including the Guidelines, thereby accepting the precedent that Israel does not have sovereignty in any of the OPT, and in return achieve further measures of integration, or it can refuse to sign such memoranda and forego further important integration, including Horizon 2020 which is very important to Israel. This is the first tangible pressure on Israel since the first President Bush temporarily suspended loan guarantees in order to force Prime Minister Shamir to attend the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991. It is an entirely justified means of creating adverse consequences for Israel if it continues to act as if it is above the law. We cannot emhasise the importance of the Guidelines strongly enough.
The logic of Secretary Kerry’s tactic can only be to persuade the European Union to allow Israel to join Horizon 2020, and perhaps other cooperative activities, without accepting the Guidelines, and thereby secure the Israeli government’s acceptance of the 1967 borders. The flaw in the logic is obvious. It will merely convince Netanyahu and his allies that they can continue to have it both ways. No amount of stern words to the contrary from Secretary Kerry or High Representative Ashton would change that. Israel would continue to stonewall in the negotiations.
What could the EU then do when the awful truth had to be faced months later? Since Horizon 2020 is the important gain Israel wants from the EU now, reactivating the Guidelines would be relatively ineffective, if effective at all. The next big step would be to suspend the EU Israel Association Agreement, with its valuable tariff concessions, but that would be much harder to achieve as it would require unanimity in the Council of Ministers. Therefore we urge you again to stand your ground and implement the Guidelines immediately and in full.
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)