German party calls for sanctions on Israel

In Germany there is a strictly enforced but intellectually lazy and morally repugnant elite consensus that unconditional support for Israel is necessary to atone for Germany’s murder of millions of European Jews. Anne PaqActiveStills

Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada  /  June 16, 2020

Germany’s left-wing party Die Linke is calling for sanctions on Israel if it proceeds with its planned annexation of large parts of the occupied West Bank.

In Germany there is a strictly enforced – but intellectually lazy and morally repugnant – elite consensus that unconditional support for Israel and inaction in the face of its crimes against Palestinians are necessary to atone for the murder of millions of European Jews in German government death camps.

Few prominent German politicians have the courage or moral clarity to understand that genuine and principled atonement would mean applying the same human rights standards to Israel as to any other country.

Instead, actual German policy amounts to shielding and rewarding Israel as it commits war crimes and perpetrates conquest, occupation and apartheid with impunity decade after decade.

Deviation from this consensus typically draws false smears of anti-Semitism.

In recent years, Die Linke has come in for strong criticism from Palestinians for falling in line with this consensus.

In that context, the latest modest step by Die Linke, which holds 69 seats in the country’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, is a significant departure.

“The planned expropriation and annexation of Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley would impose Israel’s administration, laws and jurisdiction on the Palestinian population without granting them Israeli citizenship,” the party says in a 6 June resolution approved by its executive committee.

“Should the Israeli government resolve to carry out the annexation, Die Linke will advocate for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement,” the party adds.

That agreement provides Israel with lavish support and privileges from the European Union, but it is supposed to be valid only if Israel respects human rights.

Equal rights required

Notably, Die Linke also appears to be hinting at a shift towards supporting a single democratic state in which Palestinians and Israeli Jews would enjoy full equality.

“In the face of the Israeli government’s seeming rejection of a just two-state solution, in which citizens from both sides would live with equal rights, Die Linke calls for equal civil rights for Palestinians and Israelis,” the party states.

“For Die Linke, the following principle holds everywhere and at all times: All inhabitants of every country should enjoy equal rights – irrespective of their religion, language or ethnic group.”

Yet that basic premise is the antithesis of Zionism, Israel’s racist state ideology, which holds that Palestinians should be denied basic rights, including the right to return to their native country, solely and exclusively because they are not Jews.

But Die Linke stops short of calling for a one-state solution, instead urging the German government to “work towards Israeli and Palestinian self-determination, the recognition of the state of Palestine, and its membership in international organizations.”

The party also reiterates its call for the “suspension of military cooperation with Israel.”

End impunity

Meanwhile, more than 50 UN human rights experts on Tuesday called for Israel to be held accountable for its annexation plans.

The special rapporteurs – who are appointed by the Human Rights Council and function independently – said annexation would “violate a cornerstone principle of international law and must be meaningfully opposed by the international community.”

They note that during 53 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians have been subjected to “profound human rights violations.”

These include confiscation of land and resources, forcible population transfer, excessive use of force and torture, poisoning by exposure to toxic wastes, arbitrary detention and detention of children, economic deprivation, severe restrictions on movement and the “imposition of a two-tier system of disparate political, legal, social, cultural and economic rights based on ethnicity and nationality.”

“These human rights violations would only intensify after annexation,” the UN experts state.

“What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world.”

The experts note that Israel twice before annexed occupied territory: East Jerusalem in 1980, and Syria’s Golan Heights in 1981.

Yet despite strongly condemning the moves, the UN Security Council “took no meaningful countermeasures” to oppose the annexations or Israel’s ongoing settler-colonization of occupied land.

“This time must be different,” the experts state, urging an “end to impunity” for Israel.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books