How the EU mocks the victims of Israel’s crimes

On Wednesday morning, Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian-owned building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

As usual, the pretext was that the owners had failed to obtain a permit – something the occupation municipality almost never grants to Palestinians.

A day earlier, nine Palestinians were made homeless when Israeli forces demolished two houses in the Silwan neighborhood, using the same pretext.

The Palestinian online publication Quds tweeted this video of the demolition in progress:

According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, a local organization, among the newly homeless Palestinians are several children.

Speaking amid the ruins of his house, Omar Abu Rajab told Palestinian media that Israeli forces came early in the morning and refused to postpone the destruction despite ongoing court challenges to the demolition order.

Silwan is the target of the most extensive Israeli plan to expel Palestinians in years. The plan paves the way for Jewish settlers.

Last year was a record year for Israeli demolitions in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem.

This is all part of Israel’s plan to transform the occupied Palestinian city into a Jewish theme park run by and for settlers.

“Since 1967, the government of Israel has directly engaged in the construction of 55,000 units for Israelis in East Jerusalem; in contrast, fewer than 600 units have been built for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the last of which were built 40 years ago,” Daniel Seidemann of the nonprofit group Terrestrial Jerusalem told the Ma’an News Agency in light of Tuesday’s demolitions.

Colonization surge

This week Israel began construction of 1,600 housing units in the so-called Givat Hamatos settlement in the occupied West Bank, south of Jerusalem.

For the first time in years, Israel also gave approval for new settlement construction in the heart of the West Bank city of Hebron.

And why not? Despite the UN Security Council declaring repeatedly – most recently in December – that all of Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law, Israel faces no consequences for its crimes.

On Wednesday, the European Union put out a statement about Israel’s reinvigorated settlement drive, its forced expulsions of Palestinian Bedouins and its evictions of Palestinian families in Jerusalem.

The statement does not clearly condemn Israel’s actions. Instead, it says the EU “has requested clarifications from Israeli authorities and conveyed the expectation that they reconsider these decisions, which are detrimental to ongoing efforts towards meaningful peace talks.”

This is diplomatic speak for: we barely have the courage to even criticize you, let alone to take action.

Meek “demand”

True, the statement does repeat the EU’s lip service that “all settlement activity is illegal under international law.”

But this begs the question: What “clarifications” does the EU still require after five decades of open, aggressive Israeli colonization in the occupied West Bank and elsewhere?

On Wednesday, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that eight European states are about to take the “unprecedented” step of threatening to demand $35,000 in compensation from Israel for the structures and equipment they funded in the West Bank that Israeli forces recently confiscated.

While this move is being marketed as a bold and tough European step, it only underlines how timid the EU really is. The sum in question is a tiny fraction of the at least $74 million in European-funded aid projects that Israel has destroyed with impunity.

EU support for Israel’s crimes

The fact is that the EU is an active enabler of Israel’s crimes.

Despite a growing legal consensus that international law requires countries to ban trade with Israeli settlements outright, the EU looks away as Israel defies its weak and ineffective requirements to label such goods.

Some EU officials even declare that settlement products are “welcome” in European supermarkets.

By contrast to the decades of EU inaction over Israel’s violations, the 28-member bloc was quick to impose sanctions on Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

As Israeli politicians put forward plans for ethnic cleansing and genocide, the EU refuses to condemn them. Recently, the EU even hired an Israeli genocide advocate to help with its public relations efforts.

While Israel’s biggest arms maker helps Israel evade an international ban on cluster weapons, the EU continues to lavish it with millions of dollars of “research” funds.

That’s in addition to funding Israeli torturers.

And as Israel aims to censor and suppress the Palestine solidarity movement by smearing criticism of its crimes as anti-Semitism, the EU volunteers to help.

Israel knows that EU statements are worthless. It knows that it can freely demolish Palestinian schools funded by European governments and the EU will do nothing in response.

Israel and Palestinians know that the real EU is not the one that regularly pretends to be “concerned” about settlements, but the one whose Tel Aviv ambassador Emanuele Giaufret warmly grips the hands of Israeli leaders like Naftali Bennett – an open supporter of apartheid who boasts about killing Arabs.

With all this complicity and more, EU statements like the one issued Wednesday should not be understood as criticism of Israel. They should be taken for what they really are: mockery of the Palestinian victims of the Israeli crimes the EU continues to incentivize and reward.

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Comments

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The EU should be read for what it is and not for what it wants to be seen as from the outside. The EU is a conglomerate of European Countries who for for Millennia abhorred the presence of the "other" on its soil. The creation of "israel" in Palestine is in accordance with some of the European values e.g. expulsion of the "other", in the case the Ashkenazi Jew and the creation of a perpetual suffering for the Palestinians and the Arabs in general in order to fulfill the European know-how par excellence which can be manifested in looting, plundering, appropriation, dispossession, genocides, cultural invasion and imposition of foreign values. In short, the EU has been cohesive with its policies of colonization. If we start seeing the US and the EU for what they really are, then no bar of expectation for good anything shall be raised.

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Unfortunately, the EU is a bureaucratic, colonial and hypocritical power that only comes true of human rights when it comes to its own interests.
You hit the nail on the head with the question: What “clarifications” does the EU still require after five decades of open, aggressive Israeli colonization in the occupied West Bank and elsewhere?

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Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.