Why are Israel’s cops a ‘strategic partner’ for EU ?

Israel's Border Police force is regarded as an important partner by the EU (Oren Ziv - ActiveStills)

David Cronin

The Electronic Intifada  /  November 4, 2022

Supporters of Israel, believe it or not, get one or two things right.

The constant claim that their beloved state cherishes innovation contains a grain of truth. What other oppressor views Facebook and Twitter as such vital tools for alerting the world to its brutality?

On 8 October, Israel’s police force effectively admitted that it was subjugating civilians en masse.

The force posted photographs on the internet of its officers helping to seal off Shuafat refugee camp near Jerusalem.

Israel presented the suffocation of Shuafat as a response to the killing of a soldier.

Collective punishment is forbidden under the Geneva Conventions and other instruments of international law. Every time it resorts to collective punishment, Israel commits a war crime.

Avoiding democratic oversight, the European Union has built a formal alliance with Israel’s police.

The EU even signed an accord on deepening ties with Israel’s police during September – just a few weeks before that force implicitly boasted of committing a war crime in Shuafat camp.

Through that accord, Israel can exchange personal data about Palestinians living under occupation with Europol, the EU’s police agency.

The deal was put together quite swiftly by EU standards. Negotiations aimed at sealing it kicked off in November 2021.

Around the same time that the talks opened, Israel sent a delegation of 30 high-ranking diplomats to Brussels.

‘Even stronger cooperation’

Among the many officials they met were Laurent Muschel from the migration and home affairs department of the European Commission (the EU’s executive).

A briefing note prepared for Muschel’s discussions – obtained under freedom of information rules – states that “Israel is a strategic partner country for the EU on security cooperation.”

The accord signed in September this year follows on from a 2018 “working arrangement” between Israel and Europol.

The briefing note for Muschel contends that there should be “even stronger cooperation” with Israel.

It points out that Europol assists the national authorities of EU governments in identifying “cross-border links” to organized crime. The “Israeli contribution in such cases continues to be of utmost importance,” it adds.

Since the 2018 arrangement entered into force, Israel has established a liaison office at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. Such steps offer “considerable potential” to “promote operational contribution,” the briefing note says.

The 2018 arrangement gives a list of crimes on which Israel and Europol may work together. They include terrorism and war crimes.

It stipulates, too, that information exchanged between the two sides must not be collected in “obvious violation of human rights.”

Joke ?

Was that somebody’s idea of a joke?

Israel’s police force – as already noted – actively commits war crimes, while serving a state that labels all forms of resistance to its systematic violence as terrorism.

Israel systematically uses torture against Palestinians in so-called terrorism investigations, methods which are officially sanctioned and carried out with impunity.

The fact that Israel’s police force is based in occupied East Jerusalem should be sufficient to rule out any dealing with it.

Despite opposing Israel’s colonization of East Jerusalem on paper, the EU has embraced a police force which plays an integral part in the colonization.

And what does “obvious violation of human rights” mean in this context? Does the EU seriously want Israel to be a little more subtle in the way it subjugates Palestinians?

Israel’s police force is not the only despicable body to enjoy a metaphoric massage from EU representatives lately.

The EU’s embassy in Tel Aviv has just teamed up – and not for the first time – with the European Leadership Network, perhaps the most deceptively-named outfit in Israel’s army of professional lobbyists.

Both the embassy and the European Leadership Network recently hosted a conference for “experienced diplomats, officials and experts.” Among the few details published about the event were that it discussed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

It is a safe bet that the participants were too polite to denounce Israel’s aggression against Palestinians. Senior figures in the European Leadership Network have raised funds to support that aggression.

At one point, the group even counted Michael Herzog, now Israel’s ambassador to the US, among its management. He had a significant role in planning a 2002 bombing raid on Gaza, in which eight children were killed.

Don’t expect the EU to shun the butchers of Palestinian children. Israel, after all, is a “strategic partner.”

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