Leaked paper proves EU has sidelined Palestinian rights

Israels Prime Minister Yair Lapid (Abir Sultan - Reuters)

David Cronin

The Electronic Intifada  /  September 30, 2022

A couple of myths have been spread about Israel’s cooperation with the European Union.

One, repeated by gullible reporters with Politico over the past few days, is that the relationship is “often testy.”

Another is that the bonds are not as strong as they could be because bleeding heart liberals in the Brussels bureaucracy constantly complain about the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

A leaked EU paper demolishes those myths – no doubt inadvertently.

The paper was drafted by Brussels officials ahead of an Association Council meeting with Israel next week. It proves that the oppression of the Palestinians and the theft of their homeland are being accorded far less importance than topics regarded as more strategic.

A particularly telling fact – noted in the paper – is that the EU celebrates “the successful counterterrorism dialogues initiated with Israel in 2015.”

While such “dialogues” were still being held as recently as April this year, an “informal” working group on human rights has not met since 2016.

The real nature of the EU’s relationship with Israel can be deduced from these points.

Testy ?

Far from being testy, the relationship has developed largely in the way that Israel would want. Namby-pamby concerns over human rights have been sidelined so that the grown-ups can get down to more serious business.

Almost immediately after the hijacked planes crashed into New York’s Twin Towers on 11 September 2001, senior Israeli politicians began posing as indispensable players in the “global war on terror.”

Israel has categorized all resistance to its subjugation of Palestinians as terrorism and – give or take the occasional grumble – the EU has accepted the Israeli narrative.

The paper prepared for the Association Council meeting in Brussels states that the EU “looks forward” to taking the “counterterrorism dialogue further in developing practical actions.”

The list of “practical actions” which follows includes a suggestion that both sides could work more closely on drone projects. There is no mention that Israel has experimented with drones by using them to kill large numbers of people in Gaza and then turned the fact these weapons have been “combat proven” into a unique selling point.

The paper claims that the EU is “gravely concerned that the occupation of the Palestinian territory that began in 1967 continues to this day.”

It is impossible to take that claim seriously. The paper “strongly opposes” the boycott of Israel, thereby rejecting a call from Palestinians living under an occupation that concerns EU institutions and governments so “gravely.”

Hollow criticism

The Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, has strongly been in favor of resuming the Association Council with Israel.

Jan Lipavský, the Czech foreign minister, said during the summer that the forum was being revived after a 10-year hiatus despite “issues with Israel.”

It is revealing that he would choose an inoffensive term like “issues,” thereby conveying the impression that the matters at stake are relatively trivial.

The “issues” actually concern Israel’s construction and expansion of settlements – war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The EU’s paper backs the Abraham Accords – a series of normalization deals between Israel and Arab countries. These agreements are implicitly designed to make sure that Israel’s war crimes and relentless oppression of Palestinians won’t prevent its weapons makers from landing contracts in the Middle East and beyond.

The EU’s paper subtly backs other initiatives aimed at distracting attention from the plight of Palestinians.

For example, it describes Israel as a “major partner” on LGBT rights.

By doing so, the EU has abetted the pinkwashing of Israeli apartheid. It must be pointed out nonetheless that – unlike most reputable human rights groups – the Brussels institutions have never denounced Israel for operating an apartheid system.

There are other big problems with the EU’s paper.

A reference to the Golan Heights of Syria fails to stipulate that it is under Israeli military occupation.

A criticism of administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – rings hollow.

Israel’s public security ministry, which bears responsibility for the prisons where Palestinians are locked up, is a significant beneficiary of EU scientific research grants – something that the paper neglects to point out.

And the paper fails to demand an independent probe into Israel’s killing of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Instead, it merely advocates a “thorough investigation.”

A wider unease is registered, too, about “the increasingly high level of civilian casualties as a result of actions inter alia by Israeli security forces.”

Such language suggests that the EU has no objection to state violence per se. It just wants Israeli troops to occasionally take their fingers off their triggers.

Yair Lapid, Israel’s prime minister, has been patted on the back by the EU elite for recently declaring his support for a two-state solution.

The same Lapid authorized a large-scale attack on Gaza during August.

He has given “full backing” to soldiers, who carry out numerous acts of brutality in the West Bank, especially in Jenin.

Lapid had been expected to attend the Association Council, though some media reports indicate he may not go.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the obscenities he has approved, Lapid can expect a warm welcome if he travels to Brussels next week.

David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada; his books include Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel and Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation