EU using ‘Green Deal’ funds to power Jewish  settlements

Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank will be supplied with electricity from Europe, thanks to an EU-funded project (Anne Paq - ActiveStills)

Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada  /  January 31, 2022

Last week, the European Union announced over $1 billion in funding for “Green Deal” projects supposedly aimed at facilitating a “clean energy transition.”

But the largest chunk of the cash – about $700 million – will directly benefit Israel, including its colonies built on occupied Palestinian land.

The European Union claims to oppose those settlements, regularly acknowledging that they are built in violation of international law.

The new money will go towards constructing the EuroAsia Interconnector, an underwater cable that will tie Israel’s electricity grid to Europe’s.

According to the project’s website, the EuroAsia Interconnector will function as an “energy bridge” allowing for the “bidirectional transmission of electricity” between the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe.

The project has had high-level EU support ever since the leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed a June 2017 agreement setting it in motion.

Brussels says the latest cash injection, following an earlier approximately $100 million in EU funding, is a “continuation of the financial and political support of the EuroAsia project.”

The EU gave its full backing to the electricity link even though it has always been clear that it would mean connecting Israel’s colonial settlements to Europe and potentially supplying them with power.

“This would connect Israel’s illegal settlements with the European electric grid,” putting the EU in violation of its own policies and its obligation not to recognize or assist Israel’s illegal actions, Palestine’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee stated in 2018.

The latest announcement of EU financing comes just as Amnesty International is set to charge Israel with the crime against humanity of apartheid.

Last year, Human Rights Watch and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reached the same conclusion, finally acknowledging the nature of the violently enforced Israeli system of racial segregation and domination that Palestinians have described as apartheid for decades.

Support from Washington

The EU received a pat on the head from the Biden administration for funding the EuroAsia Interconnector, which State Department spokesperson Ned Price called “a key part of strengthening regional energy security and increasing use of clean energy.”

John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, also gave it his full backing, claiming that the EU-financed project “enhances resilience, energy security and economic prosperity throughout the region.”

He did not mention how it also enhances and strengthens Jewish settlements, which as secretary of state under the Obama administration, Kerry claimed to oppose.

This month, the Biden administration withdrew US backing for a pipeline to supply Europe with fossil gas mined by Israel from disputed fields under the Mediterranean.

US officials reportedly considered the project financially and environmentally unsustainable.

It is nonetheless perverse that the EU and US are marketing their ongoing support for Israel and its colonies as a source of “clean energy” – especially while Israel habitually seizes or destroys Palestinians’ solar panels – some paid for by the EU – in order to force them off their land.

Needless to say there is nothing “green” or “clean” about funding an apartheid regime and helping power its colonies on stolen land.

But greenwashing is also being used as cover for a plan backed by Washington and the United Arab Emirates to tie Jordan’s electricity grid to Israel and its settlements, making Jordan even more politically and economically dependent on Tel Aviv.

The EU’s latest financial gift rewards and encourages Israel’s criminal behavior. It could not be more far removed from helping the environment.

It is however in keeping with the long-standing European commitment to settler-colonization at the expense of Indigenous peoples.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books)