October 6, 2013
To the Members of the Research, Industry, and Energy Committee,
We have already written to High Representative Ashton, the Permanent Representatives and others in support of the Commission’s new Territorial Guidelines relating to Israel, and we are now writing to you as Israel and its lobbyists have changed their tactics yet again in attempting to nullify the effectiveness of the Guidelines. They are now saying the Guidelines have already given Israel a hard shock, so the European Union should now relent somewhat in order to restore relations with Israel. They say that will allow the EU to influence Israel to give the peace negotiations a chance. This is similar to Secretary of State Kerry’s tactic in asking the EU to postpone implementing the Guidelines.
While at first sight this argument might seem reasonable, a little reflection shows the logic to be fatally flawed. 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.
Ask yourselves why the Israeli government is so adamantly refusing to sign memoranda including the Guidelines, even to the extent of foregoing further integration into the EU – even Horizon 2020 ? The only credible reason is that it will not voluntarily accept the precedent that it has no sovereign rights beyond the 1967 borders. This Israeli government, like the last one, is intent on taking over much of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, without swapping any land in return, much less an equal amount and quality of land.
There are also legal and moral dimensions to the question. The 1967 borders are without doubt the internationally legitimate borders. The Palestinian Liberation Organization formally accepted them in 1988 and has repeated its acceptance many times since. They give Israel 78% of Mandate Palestine. An agreed, equal land swap would allow Israel to retain most of the built-up areas near the Green Line while maintaining the legitimate 78%-22% division of the land. Surely, to any reasonable person, that should be enough for Israel. The European Union should not be expected to continue awarding Israel more integration while Israel continues acting as if it is above the law.
The Territorial Guidelines are a justified, effective means of creating adverse consequences for Israel while it continues to act that way. They are the first tangible pressure on Israel since the first President Bush threatened to suspend loan guarantees in order to force Prime Minister Shamir to attend the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991. It is clear that right wing Israeli governments will not negotiate meaningfully to end the occupation unless pressure is applied to them. Awarding Israel further integration, as the Commission did a year ago and Parliament did later in passing the ACCA, were serious errors. They merely allowed Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies to believe that Israel can continue to have it both ways, i.e. to increase its benefits from the EU and simultaneously entrench the occupation.
We urge you not to make the same error again and to leave the Guidelines intact in the Horizon 2020 memorandum of understanding. 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 up to June 2013 which indicate that they have no intention of voluntarily negotiating a solution along the internationally legitimate lines. The subsequent settlement expansion announcements are further proof. We have also attached a brief introduction to EJJP.
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. Members of Foreign Affairs Committee
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.