The death of the mother of a Palestinian baby killed in a firebomb attack underscores that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are a threat to the life of every Palestinian.
European Union foot dragging and indulgence of the settlers is generating criticism from Palestinians who are dismissing a move to label settlement products as a totally inadequate response to decades of violent Israeli colonization.
Riham Dawabsha, a 27-year-old schoolteacher, died late Sunday night in an Israeli hospital after struggling for more than a month to survive burns over 90 percent of her body, Ma’an News Agency reported.
Suspects were observed fleeing toward an Israeli settlement after the attack.
Ali’s father Saad Dawabsha died of his injures on 8 August, leaving Ahmad, Ali’s severely injured 4-year-old brother, as the lone survivor.
Yet despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vows that the killers would be caught, Israel has made no arrests.
In contrast to June 2014, when Israeli occupation forces ransacked Palestinian towns and villages in a brutal campaign of collective punishment after the abduction of three Israeli youths, Israeli settlements have been left alone.
Even the UN envoy to the region Nickolay Mladenov has expressed concern that no arrests have been made.
Given the systematic impunity Israeli soldiers and settlers enjoy for attacks on Palestinians, it would seem all the more urgent that international actors hold Israel accountable.
But the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the global BDS movement, criticized the EU’s move toward labeling Israeli settlement products as “insufficient for fulfilling European states’ legal obligations under international law.”
At a Saturday press briefing in Luxembourg, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced that the 28-country bloc would soon decide on whether or not to require special labels telling consumers if products come from West Bank settlements.
“The work is close to being finished but it is still ongoing,” Mogherini said of the long-debated move.
BDS pressure must continue
“The growing European consensus around labeling Israel’s settlement products reflected mounting public pressure in Europe on policymakers to end the profound European complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights,” the BNC said in a statement today.
But it is far from enough. “If the EU is serious in implementing its own policy of non-recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the occupied Arab territories of 1967, why doesn’t it implement a ban on the import of products of Israeli companies that illegally operate in the occupied territories?” asked Rafeef Ziadeh, a member of the BNC Secretariat. “Merely labeling, rather than banning, illegal settlement goods indicates political hypocrisy par excellence.”
Ziadah called for ongoing grassroots pressure from the BDS movement “to compel decisionmakers to comprehensively fulfil European states’ obligations under international law.”
BNC general goordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa added: “One year after Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza, the least the EU should do is not to reward and sustain relations with entities that profit from serious Israeli violations of international law.”
The BNC also called once again for an arms embargo and banking sanctions on Israel as well as a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a trade deal that supposedly conditions Israel’s privileges on its respect for human rights.
More than 300 trade unions, organizations and dozens of European Parliament members from across Europe have called on the EU to end its support for Israel’s crimes, including by suspending the agreement.
In 2013, the EU itself introduced a policy barring funding or allowing Israeli participation in EU projects if such participation amounted to recognition of Israeli sovereignty over occupied territories.
But the EU continues to flout these rules, providing funding to numerous Israeli institutions directly complicit in the occupation, including arms makers Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, and also to the Hebrew University, which is partially based in occupied East Jerusalem.
Were the situation not so grave, it would be laughable that almost 50 years after Israel’s illegal colonization of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Syria’s Golan Heights began, the mighty EU is still debating whether or not to put stickers on the fruit of Israel’s crimes.
Whatever the EU ends up doing, however, it will be too late for the Dawabsha family whose members were killed not just by the hands that set fire to their house but by decades of international support and complicity.