Update 10 April:
UNICEF has confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that EuroAsia Interconnector used its logo without permission.
UNICEF is sponsoring a major EU-financed project to link Israeli settlements to Europe’s electricity grid.
The United Nations children’s agency is listed among the “proud supporters” of the EuroAsia Interconnector, a project to build a 1,000-mile subsea cable linking the European electricity grid with Israel via Greece and Cyprus.
This means that Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights – all illegal under international law – would be linked to the European network and would benefit from Israel’s ability to trade electricity through the interconnector.
When completed, the system will also allow Israel to sell electricity produced from gas extracted from Mediterranean fields that are the subject of international disputes involving Israel, the Palestinians and Lebanon.“This multi-billion euro project rewards Israel for its war crimes while Palestinians are being kept in the dark,” the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) said in an action alert this week urging the public to tell UNICEF to drop its support for the project.
“Israel’s siege on Gaza limits electricity to just a few hours per day for close to two million Palestinians living there,” the action alert states. “Israel has repeatedly demolished Palestinian solar energy installations in the occupied West Bank, the only source of energy for many communities.”
Many of the Palestinian energy projects destroyed by Israel were funded by the EU.
Crimes against children
The BNC notes that UNICEF’s slogan is “For every child, hope,” and that the UN organization “has widely documented how Israel’s illegal settlements deny Palestinian children their basic human rights and any hope for a future of justice, peace and dignity.”
Yet UNICEF is “supporting an electricity cable to these colonial settlements, granting them recognition, money and infrastructure so they flourish,” the BNC states.
Israel’s systematic abuse of Palestinian children includes military detention and torture in the West Bank.
And in Gaza, a UN independent commission of inquiry recently called for the arrest of Israelis involved in alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity including the intentional killing of children during Great March of Return protests.
With a budget of $4 billion largely financed by the European Union, the EuroAsia Interconnector has received a high-level blessing from the Trump administration, which recently granted US recognition to Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights.
“By financing the interconnector and connecting Europe’s electricity grid with Israel’s, the EU and member states would provide direct support to Israel’s illegal settlements in violation of their legal obligations and commitments,” the BNC states in a recent briefing document on the project.
The BNC, a broad-based Palestinian civil society coalition, is demanding that the EU withdraw tenders and financing related to the Israel-Cyprus electricity link, conduct a credible human rights assessment of the EuroAsia Interconnector and warn companies and investors of legal and other risks of involving themselves in Israeli gas and electricity projects.
Risk to citizens’ privacy
The BNC is also warning of a risk to citizens’ privacy in relation to a side project of the EuroAsia Interconnector, the so-called Quantum cable, a fiber-optic line that will run from Spain to Israel.
“Laying of the Quantum cable will mean that 60 percent of the world’s internet traffic – between Europe and Asia – will pass through Israel, raising serious concerns on security and civil rights,” according to the BNC.
Israel has a well-documented record of cyberspying and subterfuge, capabilities that its intelligence agencies and firms deploy against advocates for Palestinian human rights or market to other repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“The EU’s support for the EuroAsia Interconnector and Israeli gas export to Europe stands in stark contrast with Israel’s systematic assault on Palestinian human rights, energy sources and supply,” the BNC adds.
While UNICEF’s open support for Israel’s criminal activities is out of keeping with its mission and mandate, the EU’s complicity is typical of the bloc’s long-standing policy of rewarding Israel for its violations in spite of European lip service to peace, human rights and international law.