The Electronic Intifada / October 16, 2020
The European Union is again feigning opposition to Israel’s plans to massively expand its colonies in the occupied West Bank.
On Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell gently criticized the plans, saying they “jeopardize the viability and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state.”
He even went as far as admitting that Israel’s settlements are “illegal under international law.”
But there was not even a gesture that Israel would face any consequences.
Instead, Borrell managed to bleat a suggestion that “Israel should reverse these decisions and halt all continued settlement expansions.”
How well have such polite requests worked out over the last half century?
Borrell even went on to hail the “normalization of relations between Israel, UAE and Bahrain” as an “opportunity” instead of what it really is: A reward and further incentive to Israel to continue its crimes against Palestinians, secure in its impunity.
There was a chorus of similar empty statements from European diplomats, including the German ambassador in Tel Aviv:
Notably, the German ambassador went on to brag about her government’s “intensive collaboration” with Israel’s cyberwarfare industry.
That industry uses occupied Palestinians as guinea pigs to test weapons later to be deployed by repressive governments against human rights defenders and journalists all over the world.
Sanctions on Russia
At the same time, the EU has announced sanctions against six Russian officials over the alleged poisoning of xenophobic, right-wing nationalist politician Alexei Navalny. The EU has no evidence of Russian government involvement and its sanctions are based on conjecture.
Instead of any EU concern for Navalny or “human rights,” these sanctions have everything to do with the strong anti-Russian strand in Western politics and the push for a new Cold War.
If the EU had any genuine concern for human rights it would not remain silent as Maher al-Akhras, a Palestinian who has not been charged with any crime, hovers at the edge of death. He has been on more than 80 days of hunger strike to protest his arbitrary detention by Israel.
And if the EU really did care about the illegality of Israel’s settlements, it knows precisely who is responsible for building them.
So why hasn’t the EU imposed sanctions on Israeli officials?
Why hasn’t the EU moved to stop its firms from helping build the settlements?
Why hasn’t the EU halted its partnerships with Israel’s settlement financiers?
The answer is that the EU doesn’t really oppose the settlements or any Israeli policy.
If it did, it would fight to stop the settlements with at least a fraction of the zeal it displays when it is smearing and defaming defenders of Palestinian rights as “anti-Semites.”
The EU likes to present itself as the responsible, multilateralist counterweight to the chaotic, far-right, isolationist regime in the United States.
But that’s just propaganda. Especially when it comes to Israel, the EU is merely Donald Trump with a taste for cheese and fine wine.
Ali Abunimah is Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books