Last week, Israel announced that it would auction off two prefabricated buildings that had been donated to Palestinians by the European Union.
In October, Israeli occupation forces confiscated the structures that were part of a school for dozens of children in Ibziq, a community in the north of the occupied West Bank.
Israel’s brazenness generated consternation on social media. Even the EU’s foreign policy spokesperson Maja Kocijančič tweeted that the decision was “incredible.”
But when Kocijančič delivered the EU’s official response at a press briefing on Monday, she indicated that it would be business as usual: Israel can do as it likes and the EU will take it lying down.
“When the structures were seized last year – 23 October 2018 and 5 November 2018 – the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah called on Israeli authorities ‘to return the confiscated items to their intended beneficiaries without pre-condition as soon as possible,’” Kocijančič said.
Otherwise, Israel was to “provide compensation without delay for the dismantled and confiscated assets.”
“The EU expects its investments in support of the Palestinian people to be protected from damage and destruction,” Kocijančič added.
But Israel hasn’t compensated the EU, rebuilt the schools, protected the EU’s “investments” – or the people of Ibziq who have been the targets of repeated Israeli attacks.
Area C is the approximately 60 percent of the occupied West Bank that is still fully controlled by Israel under the Oslo accords signed in the 1990s.
The EU still believes this land will make up the bulk of a future Palestinian state even as it becomes clear that Israeli leaders, backed by the Trump administration, are moving towards annexing it to Israel.
Kocijančič did reaffirm that the place where the confiscation took place is occupied territory and that under international law Israel has “the obligation to protect and facilitate development for the local population, and to grant unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance.”
But there was no inkling that the EU would do anything either to enforce international law or to make Israel pay for its theft.
So I sent a follow-up question to Kocijančič asking, “Can you confirm that the EU plans to take no action whatsoever to hold Israel accountable for what it has done?”
“I can’t confirm something that I didn’t say,” Kocijančič replied. “Our position is very clear from my answer.”
The only thing that is clear is that the European Union will continue allowing Israel to shoot children dead in cold blood, demolish schools and build even more colonies on stolen Palestinian land, and the only thing Israel need fear is a few mild words of rebuke.
In the meantime, the EU will continue to lavish money on Israel and its war industry, sending a message that is clearly understood by Israel’s government: crime pays.
Indeed, as Kocijančič was delivering her empty statement on Israel’s theft of the school buildings, EU officials were welcoming an Israeli delegation in Brussels to “learn from each other in addressing common domestic and regional threats and challenges.”