In an Association Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, the European Union is set to offer Israel upgraded trade and diplomatic relations in more than 60 areas, despite EU criticism of Israel’s ongoing occupation and settlement activities.
The EU continues to invalidate its public criticisms with positive actions toward Israel, despite clear evidence that the carrot does not work.Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) will be attending an EU Association Council meeting on Tuesday in which, according to an anonymous diplomatic source quoted in The Guardian, the EU will expand its relations with Israel on issues including migration, energy and agriculture.
The aforementioned diplomat told The Guardian that "I was struck by the fact that a whole range of relations was offered to Israel – at the request of Israel – as if nothing is happening on the ground." "Most ministers are too afraid to speak out in case they are singled out as being too critical towards Israel, because, in the end, relations with Israel are on the one hand relations with the Jewish community at large and on the other hand with Washington – nobody wants to have fuss with Washington. So [ministers] are fine with making political statements but they refrain from taking concrete action."
In a statement issued by the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), the umbrella group noted that “in June 2009, the upgrade of EU-Israel relations has been suspended. Since then, the EU has considered the context unfavourable to restarting the process, but the context is no less favourable to the adoption or implementation of any new agreement, would it be part of the current Action Plan or not. On the contrary, the situation has reached dramatic levels: unprecedented settlement expansion and exploitation of resources; accelerated displacement of communities and house demolitions; continue construction of the Wall and of the closure of the Gaza Strip; and increased vulnerability to settlers’ violence, among others.
The statement adds that “further integration of Israel into the EU economic, social, political and scientific structures is not acceptable as long as Israel refuses to comply with its obligations under international law and puts an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories.”
For its part the Israel Foreign Ministry wishes to discuss the situation in the Middle East with the EU, not its occupation of the Palestinian and Syrian territories. A statement issued by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that “Lieberman is also expected to bring up Israel's view that the EU countries should include Hizbullah in their list of terrorist organizations.”
In its statement the ECCP further adds that the EU has legal responsibility under international law to ensure Israeli compliance with international humanitarian law and the UN Charter, amongst others. By granting funds under the EU research program to bodies acting in the settlements, by allowing trade of settlement products in the EU market and by failing to take effective measures to encourage Israel’s compliance with international law, the EU is failing to meet its own international legal responsibilities.
Public statements by EU officials condemning Israeli violations of Palestinian rights are eloquently worded, yet utterly lacking in political backing. The Palestinians know about Israeli violations, they don’t need EU officials for this information. What Palestinians need, however, is actual international support for their just struggle and a holding of Israel accountable for its ongoing violations of international law. The EU, for now, has decided not to provide such support, preferring instead to promote relations and dialogue with Israel and the United States.