Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, during their meeting in Jerusalem, on June 20, 2013. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/Flash90/Times of Israel)
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According to Bible prophecy, leaders in Europe will seek to impose a dangerous, ill-considered, unworkable “peace treaty” on Israel in the last days. It may be too soon to say we are there yet, but there is no question European leaders are turning increasingly anti-Israel and seeking to impose a final status agreement on the Jewish and Palestinian people.
Here is the latest example: On the eve of new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the European Union has made a sweeping and highly aggressive move to use its legal and financial muscle to force Israel to divide its capital city of Jerusalem and abandon all of its activities in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, commonly known these days as the “West Bank” of the Jordan River.
Specifically, the EU barring all of its 28 member countries from doing any business or any other activity with any Israeli company, NGO, college, school or other entity that operate in East Jerusalem or the West Bank. There is grave concern among Israelis that this could effectively become a boycott or a full embargo against any Israeli company that is based in “Israel-proper” but has a factory or offices or affiliates that operate in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. If so, this could have a devastating financial consequence given the level of business Israel currently does with Europe. [To read the full text of the EU directive, please click here.]
There is no legal basis for the EU’s move, as noted below. Understandably, therefore, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials are speaking out strongly against this “foreign dictate.”
THE EU DIRECTIVE
“A dramatic new directive published by the European Union bars its 28 members from all cooperation with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” reports the Times of Israel. “The directive, sent out on June 30 and set to take effect on Friday, extends to ‘all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes’ to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank….It also requires that any contracts between EU member countries and Israel henceforth include a clause stating that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are not part of the State of Israel.”
“Sandra de Waele, the deputy EU ambassador to Israel, said the measure was designed to ensure that EU financial support ‘not benefit [Israeli] entities’ beyond the Green Line, because it was the EU’s position that such entities were illegal,” the Times reported. “She said there had been concern that these entities had indeed been benefiting from EU funds. She stressed that the directive would not affect private businesses. A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the ruling was an ‘earthquake’ which unprecedentedly turns ‘understandings and quiet agreements that the Union does not work beyond the Green Line’ into ‘formal, binding policy….’”
“The European Union has been reported to be mulling sanctions against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem for some time, with new rules for labeling products produced over the Green Line on the table,” the Times noted. “The directive, to be in effect until 2020, is designed in part to stave-off a general boycott of Israel and to ensure that Israel’s participation in EU projects is ‘not put in question,’ the EU told Haaretz. Reportedly, the clause is already affecting negotiations over a proposed Israeli-EU youth project.”
NETANYAHU SPEAKS OUT
“As prime minister, I won’t allow hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in the West Bank, Golan Heights, and in Jerusalem — our united capital — to be harmed,” Netanyahu said, according to a separate article by the Times of Israel. “I expect those who really want peace and regional stability to deal with this matter [of West Bank settlements] after they solve more pressing problems in the region like the Syrian civil war and Iran’s race to get a nuclear weapon….We will not accept any foreign dictates about our borders. This matter will only be determined through direct negotiation between the [two] sides” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
EU DIRECTIVE’S FLAWED LEGAL BASIS
“This unprecedented and hostile EU fixation with Israel and its settlements, to the almost total exclusion of the other pressing issues in the Middle East, Europe, and throughout the world, is based on a series of long-standing and deliberately misleading and flawed legal and political assumptions regarding the illegality of Israel’s settlements and the status of the pre-1967 armistice lines as Israel’s border,” notes Ambassador Alan Baker, former legal advisor to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israeli ambassador to Canada, in an analysis for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
“These assumptions are all the more misleading and misguided in that they totally negate or deliberately flout the historic and legal rights granted by the international community, including Europe, to Israel and the Jewish people in a series of international agreements and commitments,” Baker argues. “The assumptions totally ignore the indigenous rights of the Jewish people in the area, as protected by international declarations. Similarly, they negate the very positions supported by the European states that endorsed UN Security Council Resolution 242 from 1967 calling for ‘secure and recognized boundaries,’ and negate the EU’s own commitments as signatory and witness to the Oslo Accords, to honour the content of those accords, and not to predetermine and undermine specific negotiating issues including the final status of the territories, borders, settlements, Jerusalem, and other issues. As such, the present EU policy, including the commission notice, specifically undermines the negotiating process by taking sides, and by pre-determining the negotiating issues of settlements, Jerusalem and borders. As such, this fixation prejudices and obviates any claim by the EU to impartiality, and precludes the EU from performing any function within the negotiating process.”
It is one thing to defend the right of the Palestinian people to have full autonomy and govern their own daily affairs. I wholeheartedly support and defend that right, as well. But the EU is trying to impose a final agreement on Israel and the Jewish people in defiance of international law and their own previously stated policies. The EU move is wrong-headed, reveals Europe’s increasingly anti-Israel attitude, and should make Israeli leaders wary about any EU involvement in the peace process.
Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog