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European think tank urges the EU to take a tougher stance on Israeli IHL violations.


By Tadas Blinda - May 25, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [European Union] [Oslo Accords] [European Council on Foreign Relations] [Occupation]

Israel’s President Shimon Peres meeting with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in Brussels.

 

A new ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations) report urges the European Union (EU) to adjust its policy towards the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in order to salvage the two-state solution while it is still possible. 

ECFR, the first pan-European think tank, released new publication, “Europe and the vanishing two-state solution” in the beginning of May encouraging the EU to take a hands on approach in bringing Israel and the Palestinians to a final settlement since the United States is apparently  unable to confront Israel over its continued occupation. 
 
“Before it is too late, Europe needs to recalibrate its engagement with the Israel/Palestine conflict. It must act to bring it home to Israelis how close they are to the danger of international isolation,” the publication states. 
 
EU statements repeatedly showed great concern regarding illegal Israeli settlement expansion, its siege on Gaza, as well as its systemic erosion of the Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. These three factors, the report argues, make it the viability of a two-state solution nearly impossible. Nick Whitney, the author of the report, calls on the EU to take a tougher stand and back its statements with sincere action.
 
“As so often, Europe issues great statements, and then under-cuts them by its actual behaviour. As we have thickened ties with Israel in recent years, at both EU and national levels, so Israel has learned to regard calls for an end to settlements and for de-occupation as so much huffing and puffing.”
 
The ECFR’s paper acknowledges that the occupation is the proverbial elephant in the room; one that is no longer camouflaged by some hopeful new peace initiative .To date,  EU policy has been acquiescence to Israel’s systematic erosion of the prospects for a two-state solution.
 
The report distinguishes several key points where, the authors argue, EU policy should be readjusted towards Israeli settlements.
 
First, the EU should be more aware of letting settlements and settlers benefit from wide range of EU programs, such as European research grants for settlement enterprises. Another troubling point is European companies investing in or doing business with Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territories.  European governments could instead issue official advice against such economic activity. Financial aid to the settler movement from supporters in Europe should no longer be treated as tax-deductible charitable donations. Many settlers who have dual European and Israeli nationalities prefer to deal with embassies in Tel Aviv for matters such as passport renewal. Since they are residents in the occupied territories, the report argues, they should deal with their missions in East Jerusalem.
 
Additionally, Europeans should be careful about collaborating with Ariel University – the first settlement-based educational institution granted university status in the occupied territories. 
 
According to ECFR, individual member states and the EU institutions all have their parts to play in ensuring that Europe does a better job of distinguishing between settlements and Israel proper. 
 
This report follows a letter to High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, by former senior EU officials. The letter urges the EU to abandon the long outdated Oslo narrative and to take on new measures; ones that take sincere steps towards an end to the occupation.
 
Just like the ECFR paper, this letter acknowledges that the West is not doing much to counter the occupation and encourages EU to take action.
 
”It is time to give a stark warning that the Occupation is actually being entrenched by the present Western policy...For all the good sense of EU statements on this issue over the years, the EU’s inactivity in the face of an increasingly dangerous stagnation is both unprincipled and unwise. European leaders cannot wait for ever for action from the United States when the evidence accumulates of American failure to recognize and promote the equal status of Israelis and Palestinians in the search for a settlement, as accepted in United Nations resolutions.”
 
 
Watch Nick Whitney talking about the report:
 

 
 
Sources: 
European Council on Foreign Relations (www.ecfr.eu) 
+972 Magazine (http://972mag.com/will-europe-take-a-leading-role-on-israelpalestine/71771/, http://972mag.com/senior-eu-officials-oslo-process-has-nothing-more-to-offer/69714/)
 

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