It may not have reached the level of fevered expectation unleashed by that famous handshake between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the White House lawn in 1993, but the sense of hope inspired by the long-awaited revival of peace talks is both tangible and deeply misplaced.
With Europe’s most talented young footballers preparing for the kick-off of the under-21 championships on Wednesday, Israelis are celebrating the biggest footballing coup in their history… Last week Desmond Tutu, the leading South African anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel peace laureate, threw his weight behind the campaign. In a letter published by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Tutu and other prominent human rights activists argued that UEFA was acting to “whitewash” Israeli racism.
A major new report has found that the European Union has failed to fulfil its own commitments to ensure Israel improves living conditions for Palestinians.
Israel’s increasing integration into European competitions, despite its refusal to revive peace talks with the Palestinians, respect human rights and halt illegal settlement, is, according to critics, contrary to sporting values and should be met with international opposition of the kind faced by apartheid South Africa.
Hanan Ashwari: “Typical American behaviour but also overkill. It is ridiculous and unconscionable the way they put themselves at the service of Israel in such a blatant way. This is tremendous American pressure and bias.”
Europe’s only real leverage over Israel is economic: business between the two already accounts for about 60 per cent of Israeli trade, worth nearly 30 billion euros (Dh136 billion). But rather than penalising Israel for repeatedly stomping over the flimsiest prospects for a two-state solution, the EU is handsomely rewarding it.
Senior EU diplomat: “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.”
The Spiegel’s special report on Israel’s German-made nuclear-capable Dolphin class submarines: Many have wondered for years about the exact capabilities of the submarines Germany exports to Israel. Now, experts in Germany and Israel have confirmed that nuclear-tipped missiles have been deployed on the vessels. And the German government has long known about it.
Israel has been ranked in the top four countries that most negatively influence the word, according to a global public opinion poll conducted by the BBC… Where do the negative evaluations of Israel come from? Some 45 percent of participants said that Israeli government policy causes them to see Israel in a negative light, and 27 percent said their negative evaluation stemmed from the state’s treatment of its own people.
It is doubtful whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has expressed great concern over the fate of Migron’s residents, has heard of Tha’lah. Unfortunately for the village’s residents, Tha’lah is situated in Area C, which is under Israel jurisdiction. Minister Benny Begin, who worked so tirelessly on the questionable “agreement” that will leave the Migron criminals on stolen land for a few more years (if it is ever implemented ), presumably does not know what happened to the residents of this tiny village in the Southern Hebron Hills. And the Israeli media didn’t stop focusing on an Iranian nuclear bomb that threatens to destroy our homes long enough to cover a boring story about a Palestinian family whose home we Israelis razed.
The current report holds that, among other things, Israel is working to annex the Eastern part of Israel – a policy that the European Union sees as illegal, and holds that Israeli policies in East Jerusalem are “increasingly undermining the feasibility of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.”
“Some 450,000 Israeli settlers on the West Bank use more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians that live there… In times of drought, in contravention of international law, the settlers get priority for water… Israel’s territorial expansion is seen as a ‘water occupation’ of both streams and aquifers…”
Using phrases that imply Israel is conducting a policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Area C, the report notes the Palestinian population has shrunk dramatically to only 150,000, compared to as many as twice that number in the Jordan Valley alone in 1967. The Jewish population in the settlements, meanwhile, has grown to 310,000, tripling in less than 20 years.
Survey by European Heads of Mission in Jerusalem, Ramallah criticizes Israel for the ‘forced transfer’ Palestinians from Area C, defined by the Oslo Accords as those parts of the West Bank under full Israeli control.
In recent weeks, a spate of anti-democratic measures have won support from Netanyahu’s rightwing government, justified by a new security doctrine: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil of Israel. If the legislative proposals pass, the Israeli courts, Israel’s human rights groups and media, and the international community will be transformed into the proverbial three monkeys.
Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama are pissed off at [Netanyahu] because he’s not as good a liar as his predecessors in the PM’s Office. They’re angry because he doesn’t bother to cover up the gap between the words and the bulldozers. It makes it harder for them to conceal the falsehood in US and European policy. A policy which supposedly seeks peace in the region and a state for the Palestinians; in practice, one that collaborates with Israel’s aim to impose a capitulation arrangement on the Palestinians.
The PA, which exercises limited rule in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has often failed to pay its 150,000 employees on time and in full and remains reliant on foreign aid to fill a deficit projected at $900 million this year. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank say that financial problems threaten the state-building program overseen by Salam Fayyad, the prime minister in the West Bank.
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store believes negotiations can ‘solve’ matters between Israel and the Palestinians, but that the Palestinians have a ‘right to go to the UN’.
Campaigners for Palestinian rights are celebrating after the primary Israeli agricultural produce export company Agrexco, which has been a key target of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights, has been ordered into liquidation after being unable to pay its creditors… Agrexco is a partially state-owned Israeli exporter responsible for the export of a large proportion of fresh Israeli produce, including 60-70% of the agricultural produce grown in Israel’s illegal settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
“Who Profits” activist Merav Emir: “I want to congratulate the German government for making such a clear and bold statement about the illegality of this train route under international law. We call on other European governments to follow suit in making sure that companies in their countries abide by international law.”
European diplomats have confirmed that such a message was conveyed several days ago. One diplomat said his country did not receive a serious response when asked what unilateral steps Israel might take. Another diplomat … said in light of the current deadlock in negotiations, international recognition of Palestinian statehood appeared unavoidable in September.
IOA Editor: The Israeli government is clearly concerned about the diplomatic front turning against it. But what could it do, “unilaterally,” that hasn’t been done in the past 43 years? Bomb? Annex? Re-Occupy?
Francis Boyle: Basically, the resolution as currently drafted authorizes a war across the board against Libya — air-strikes, naval blockade, even a land invasion. The only exception in there is against a foreign military occupation force. But under the laws of war, there is a distinction between a land invasion and an occupation force.
[T]he UN security council resolution is an extraordinary achievement. It is unrelenting in its commitment to saving lives, yet nuanced enough to take into account Libya’s sensitivity to foreign intrusion – a result of its exceptionally brutal colonial experience under the Italians – and seems committed to Libyan sovereignty and political independence. Its authors would do well to remain true to these sentiments.
Yossi Alpher: “At this point it’s all spin designed to fend off pressures… The object of the exercise is to gain a day, or a week, or a month, before having to come up with some sort of new spin.”
A crisis erupted between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During a telephone call this week, Merkel told Netanyahu that he had disappointed her and had done nothing to advance peace.
The central difference between the US and the EU is that most European countries, rhetorically at least, believe that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict must be based on international law and UN resolutions, while the US seeks to negate these to ensure that any solution is based on Israeli-manufactured facts on the ground.
26 former top EU officials, including ex EU chief Solana and former German President Richard von Weizsacker, urge world powers to confront Jerusalem over its refusal to obey international law.
Settlement leader: “European countries must understand that without a state of Israel there is no one to stop the Muslim wave from eroding Europe, and without Judea and Samaria, Israel is unable to exist.”
Kaplan and Feiler had planned to use their trip in Israel to lodge an official complaint with the Israel Police against the Israel Defense Forces. Their complaint accused the IDF of kidnapping, armed robbery, violence and obstruction of freedom.
Israel and Britain moved last night to limit the damage of an Israeli diplomatic ambush that threatened to overshadow the first official visit to the Middle East by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary.
“This is clearly a serious criminal attack,” he said. “It is hijacking in international waters and there were quite brutal murders.” But, although this case is more extreme than others, he said, Israel’s “hijacking ships in international waters, kidnapping people, killing them sometimes, bringing them to Israel, keeping them hostages in prisons for long periods” have been going on for at least 30 years, and Israel can continue those actions because it is tolerated by the United States.
“The Local Councils are led by mayors from all over the political spectrum for Israel’s citizens. These kinds of actions only hurt the cause of advancing peace…”
IOA Editor: This would be accurate if you substituted the word “colonization” for the word “peace.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry has asked senior EU officials to renew the process of upgrading Israel’s relations with the organization, in view of the renewal earlier this month of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In April 2009, the EU suspended the upgrade process after PM Netanyahu announced a reassessment of the peace process and Israeli-PA talks were subsequently suspended.
It should be perfectly obvious that talks aimed at the creation of a Palestinian state cannot possibly prosper while Israel continues its strategic colonisation of the land on which that state would be built. The US and its international partners must insist on a cessation of settlement-building.
Lady Ashton:“The EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahmah to be a human rights defender committed to non-violent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier … The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal. The high representative is deeply concerned that the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahmah is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non-violent manner.”
American support for Israel is waning, a poll presented to senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem last week revealed. [And it is even lower in western Europe.]