Members of the European Parliament are expressing strong opposition to the latest moves by the European Union to ramp up support for Israel even as it charges ahead with plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank – a flagrant violation of international law.
They are in a minority, however, as the Commission, the EU’s executive, and the majority of European Parliament members appear content to send Israel a message of unconditional support.
On Monday, the European Investment Bank handed Israel a $170 million loan to finance a desalination plant.
And on Wednesday, the European Parliament voted 437-102 to ratify a new aviation agreement that will give Israeli airlines even greater access to European destinations and an additional boost to Israel’s economy.
An earlier motion to postpone ratification was defeated by 388-278.
Individual EU members are also lavishing rewards on Israel.
For instance, Sweden – which enjoys an undeserved reputation for holding Israel accountable – is funding a new initiative to encourage business with Israel’s hi-tech “startups” – a sector inextricably linked to its cyberwarfare and surveillance industry.
ECCP, a Europe-wide coalition of Palestinian rights groups, is condemning the EU’s measures.
Members of the European Parliament “had an opportunity to stand up for justice for the Palestinian people and show apartheid Israel that there will be accountability for violations of international law,” Fatin Al Tamimi, chair of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a member of ECCP, said.
“Unfortunately by choosing to continue with business as usual with Israel, even in the face of the roundly condemned annexation plan, MEPs have shown once again how unwilling the EU is to actually act in defense of human rights and the rule of law.”
“Shame on them”
The EU has expressed strong opposition to Israel’s plan to annex occupied Palestinian land, even warning in February that the land grab “could not pass unchallenged” if Israel went ahead with it.
But the EU is not merely doing nothing to stop Israel. It is actively rewarding and incentivizing its crimes.
Manu Pineda, a left-wing lawmaker from Spain and chair of the European Parliament’s Palestine relations delegation, lodged a question with the Commission over the EU financing of the Israeli desalination plant.
He called the move “inexplicable” in light of Israel’s recent actions against Palestinians.
Ireland’s Clare Daly called it a “new low” that her fellow European Parliament members voted to “normalize Israeli crimes” by ratifying the aviation deal.
“Shame on them,” she added.
Just an hour after ratifying the aviation treaty, European lawmakers held a debate on annexation attended by Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief.
“Those same political groups whom we heard expressing concern about annexation had just made annexation possible by voting in favor of the EU-Israel Aviation Agreement,” said ECCP coordinator Aneta Jerska.
“This is by any standards the pinnacle of the EU’s hypocrisy.”
Borrell reiterated to the parliament that annexation would “constitute a serious violation of international law.”
He warned that “From a European Union perspective, annexation would inevitably have significant consequences for the close relationship we currently enjoy with Israel.”
Hearing those words, Israeli officials must be laughing all the way to the European Investment Bank.