Pushback has already begun against the EU’s (mis)directive calling for an effective boycott on Jewish (not Palestinian) towns in Judea, Samaria and certain parts of Jerusalem .
PM Binyamin Netanyahu announced that “we won’t accept foreign dictates over our borders”:
n a pointed announcement Tuesday, Netanyahu condemned the directive. “I would expect anyone who truly cares about peace and stability to make time to address this particular issue only after solving some far more urgent issues in the region, like the civil war in Syria or Iran’s race toward obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Netanyahu said. “As prime minister of Israel, I will not allow hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem, our united capital, to be harmed.”
“We will not accept any foreign dictate over our borders. The issue will be resolved only through direct negotiations between the parties,” Netanyahu declared.
Netanyahu is now working to get the EU to freeze publication of its guidelines (though it seems rather too late to me). I hate the idea of our PM grovelling to the Europeans like a court Jew of old, but there may be more to this behind the scenes:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned European Commission President José Manuel Barroso Thursday hoping to convince the EU not to formally publicize on Friday new EU guidelines on settlements because of the negative ramifications that will have on both the peace process and Israel’s ties with the EU.
Israeli officials said that Netanyahu attacked the new measures, and repeated his position that there were more burning issues in the Middle East – such as the Syrian civil war and the Iranian nuclear march – that needed to be dealt with first. The officials said that the two men agreed to continue discussing the issue.
Netanyahu also spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry, currently in Amman trying to push forward US-Palestinian talks, about this matter. He reiterated his position that this type of European support for Palestinian maximalist demands will make it much more difficult to start the negotiations.
A similar argument was made by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who met EU envoy Andreas Reineke. She said that it was important for the Europeans to let Israel and the Palestinians determine the border in negotiations, and not for the EU to unilaterally do it for them. She said an EU decision to freeze the guidelines would contribute to restarting the talks.
Netanyahu also spoke about the matter over the last two days with French President Francois Hollande, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, and Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Those conversations, at least the ones with the Austrian and Maltese leaders, were believed to be as much about placing Hezbollah on the EU’s terror blacklist, as about the settlement guidelines.
Austria and Malta are the two remaining countries who have registered opposition to calling Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization. EU officials held a meeting on this matter on Wednesday, and it is due to come to a meeting of the Union’s 28 foreign ministers next week.
Israel’s ambassadors in EU countries, meanwhile, were instructed to explain to their interlocutors throughout the significance and ramifications of the guidelines, which it is believed in Jerusalem very few people actually understand, outside of the EU bureaucrats who drew them up.
The ambassadors are to explain the practical implications of the guidelines, and how there are certain clauses that are impossible for Israel to live with, and which will severely complicate both Israeli-EU ties and the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
One senior Israeli diplomatic official quoted highly-placed colleagues in some European capitals he contacted on Tuesday as saying, when the story first broke, that they did not know what was being discussed.
“We need to understand who is behind this,” the official said. “If it is a process set forth at the diplomatic level, or whether it was over-eager bureaucrats who took a statement made after the EU foreign ministers meeting in December and took it way too far.”
If this weren’t so serious it would be easy to laugh at a typically European snafu of mind-bogglingly complicated guidelines that no one outside the bureaucrats understands.
The article continues:
The [Israeli] official said that senior diplomats in some European capitals said they were surprised that such a detailed document governing the EU’s interactions with institutions and companies with activity beyond the Green Line had been developed from that statement.
It is important to delay publication of the guidelines, the official said, because once they are publicized in the official EU gazette, it will take a consensus of the 28 EU countries to rescind them, something that is highly improbable.
Netanyahu, according to the official, is trying to explain that the EU is acting like “an elephant in a china shop,” and that not only will this move make it more difficult to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, because they will ask why negotiate when the Europeans are giving them what they want, but it will also enhance voices in Israel against Kerry’s efforts.
The first casualty of the EU’s ruling could be davka John Kerry’s umpteenth attempt at reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks:
You don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool Likudnik to understand that the clear and immediate effect of the EU’s new policy directive barring cooperation with Israeli entities over the pre-’67 line will be to prompt the hardening of the already inflexible Palestinian position regarding new talks.
Publication of the new directive coincided with Kerry’s latest visit to the region in his indefatigable bid to restart the talks. Some voices in Israel have hinted that the EU decision was taken in coordination with the US administration, and even with Kerry’s approval, with the goal of pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to show greater conciliation in dealings with the Palestinians or at least to slow construction in the settlements. This notion seems fanciful.
Kerry, who is thoroughly familiar with the Israel-Palestinian arena, would know that the PA is now even less likely to abandon its pre-conditions to new talks. If anything, it will only add new ones. And the conditions that the PA is presenting are not realistic: not merely Israeli acceptance of the pre-’67 lines as the basis for negotiation, but also a complete freeze on building over the ’67 lines, and the release of all prisoners arrested before the Oslo accords.
The EU decision comes at a critical juncture in the US-led effort to resume talks. And rather than pushing both sides towards greater flexibility, the EU is essentially saying to the Palestinians, “No need to hurry. Whatever you don’t get by negotiations, we’ll be sure to attain for you by force [of economic sanctions].”
Predictably, the Palestinians rushed to praise the EU move. The PA did so, and so too did Hanan Ashrawi, the representative of the PLO’s executive committee, who described the new directive as a qualitative development in the EU position. The Palestinians, said Ashrawi, have been demanding for a long time that the nations of the world translate into action their decisions on the issue of settlements, and make plain to Jerusalem that there is a price to pay for its activities. She also urged other nations to take similar steps.
Ashrawi is right: That is indeed the Palestinian position. And now the Palestinians have no particular incentive to agree to return to the negotiating table. With regard to the international community, time is working for the Palestinians and against Israel, whose standing is gradually and relentlessly eroding.
Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post is of similar mind.
Many of the anti-settlement steps under consideration – from labeling settlement goods to the new guidelines restricting financial grants to entities operating outside the Green Line – are driven by the street, as well as a feeling among EU governments that they need to respond to the vocal publics for whom this is a major issue.
The irony is that these very steps, promoted by those who see themselves as peace advocates, could actually work contrary to moving the diplomatic process forward.
Whatever school one subscribes to – whether one believes the timing was intentional or not – the byproduct is the same: a disincentive for the Palestinians to negotiate because of a belief that if they just wait long enough, the world, led by the Europeans, will get their solution imposed on Israel.
A senior Palestinian Authority official confirmed to Israel Hayom on Tuesday that many in Ramallah were dissatisfied with the European Union’s decision to withhold economic grants and incentives to Israeli companies situated in Judea and Samaria.
“For our part, we approached a number of [European] Union officials, in the [Palestinian] Authority and also in Israel, to try and prevent the decision or at least to keep it unofficial,” said the official, who declined to give his name. “It’s not just Israeli companies that are going to be hit economically, it’s also going to be disastrous economically and socially for the Palestinian community.”
Sammer Darawsha, who works in a hothouse that is a part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian agricultural project funded by members of the EU and situated near the Halamish settlement, said the decision will “affect everyone, whether Jew or Palestinian. If they take away our livelihoods and food, exactly what kind of peace will be here?”
“It must be understood that the Arab side is also going to be harmed by this directive. Indeed, a generous portion of the labor in Judea and Samaria is Palestinian,” a veteran businessman said on Tuesday.
Ramzi Gabai, the director of the export institute, said that “there’s no room to mix political and economic issues.”
As I commented on the previous thread, that’s the essence of the stupidity and arrogance about the anti-Israel activists, amongst whom I count the EU. They are more keen on doing damage to Israel than actually helping real live Palestinians. For them it’s better to cut off someone else’s nose (the Palestinians) to spite Israel’s face (to mangle metaphors) rather than actually do something positive for both the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Haim Shine in Israel Hayom notes that The real battle is over Jerusalem:
It is important for Israeli citizens to realize that the real battle is over Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s eternal capital. Settlements like Kedumim, Beit El and Ariel are just pretexts for Europe’s unwillingness to see a strong, thriving, enlightened Jewish state moving forward with a united and whole Jerusalem as its capital. Jewish sovereignty flies in the face of Christian theology, on the altar of which all of Europe was soaked in Jewish blood.
Beyond theology, European leaders believe that solving the Jewish-Arab conflict will lead to world peace. This is an illusory fantasy that the State of Israel has been made to pay for time after time. It is a pity that Europe has become so captivated by a desert mirage.
Anyone who wishes to return the State of Israel to its 1967 borders in fact has a single goal, to help Arab countries to lead the Jewish state to the blue line, the last line in their phased plan. This is the evil plan that has guided Arab countries since the outset of Zionism.
It is incumbent on all Israeli citizens to show grit in the face of this ploy. There is no difference between a family that lives in Tel Aviv and Shilo. If Europe’s ploy is successful, it will hurt all Israeli citizens wherever they live. All Israeli political parties, Left, Right and Center, must stand shoulder to shoulder and inform the world that the nation of Israel has returned to the land of Israel, not to be at other’s mercy but to be an “iron wall” that insists on our right to the land of Israel and our right to defend ourselves. All the nations will understand that after 2,000 years, Jews are no longer willing to be the punching bag of cynical, hypocritical and dangerous political manipulators.
Labour MK Isaac Herzog, as stupid and blind as always says that Israel must rush into a peace treaty. As if we haven’t been trying over and over again until now. As if we have never ceded territory. As if the territory we have ceded has not been turned into a haven for extremist violent terrorism and incitement against Israel and Jews everywhere.
Even if Israel is in the right, even if U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will find it even harder to reignite the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and even if the European Union’s priorities seem baffling, the EU’s decision to exclude Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria from any future cooperation agreements has rendered these things irrelevant.
Israel does not have the privilege of ignoring the EU’s boycott, as its long-term ramifications for us will be irrevocable. We are still struggling to find ways to recover from a 40 billion shekel ($11.23 billion) deficit — the EU’s financial sanction will throw us for a loop and change the rules of the game completely.
The only way to stave off this political hemorrhaging is for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue a peace initiative without delay. He must valiantly recognize the principle of the 1967 borders, with the annexation of the large settlement blocs and land swaps. That is the formula that could see Zionism achieve sustainable borders for a Jewish and democratic state.
Herzog has closed his mind to reality. Does he really think the EU will accept such annexation, even on a reduced scale? The EU don’t recognize ANY part of the territories as Israel, no matter what we say or do. No matter that these territories never belonged to an entity called Palestine because such entity never existed. And the territories were held by the Arabs for a mere 19 years in all of history. The main thing for the Europeans is that the Jews should not (gasp!) have possession of this territory.
MK Ofir Akunis: Europe is wrong. Again.
The European Union is wrong. Taking a unilateral stand will not encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiation table. On the contrary — automatically siding with the Palestinian Authority’s positions will only drive them away. Why engage in negotiations with Israel when their demands are met in advance?
It seems that past experiences have failed to leave their mark. Europe has supported the various erroneous notions previously employed here — the Oslo Accords, the disengagement from Gaza Strip, former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert’s proposals to return to the 1967 borders and divide Jerusalem — have all failed. Not because of the Europeans, not because of Israel and not because of the United States. They failed over the Palestinians’ persistent refusal to strike peace.
The Europeans were wrong before. They are wrong again.
When Europe understands that the conflict has little to do with the 1967 borders and everything to do with our very existence here, they too will abandon their unfortunate tendency to interfere where it is unnecessary and even harmful.
No they won’t. They will double down on their efforts to bring about an end to our existence here. Their obtuseness until now cannot be explained in any other way, and European history gives me no reason to think otherwise.
In a connected issue, The Zionist Organization of America reminds the Americans that East Jerusalem is not Palestinian territory. This could be addressed equally to the Europeans.
The U.S. State Department cannot refer to east Jerusalem as Palestinian territory, according to a statement made by the Zionist Organization of America on Monday. The statement was made in response to the U.S. State Department’s announcement of joint U.S.-Palestinian cultural program that was to take place at the “Palestinian Heritage Museum, East Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories.”
“Eastern Jerusalem is actually the eastern half of the city of Jerusalem, including the ancient Jewish section populated by over 200,000 Jews, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest sites,” the statement read, later calling the State Department’s usage “legally inaccurate, politically biased and prejudicial to the prospect of genuine peace negotiations.”
The written statement continued to say that the usage contradicts the years old U.S. policy that the status of Jerusalem could only be determined in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The statement, signed by ZOA President Morton Klein, also noted that the neglect of eastern Jerusalem only ended under Israeli rule and after the unification of Jerusalem.
This is an old story for the European Union — it strives for relevance but its anti-Israeli tendencies make it particularly unsuited to play any constructive role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EU-affiliated organizations back phony NGOs that operate in Israel for the purpose of delegitimizing the Jewish state. Government officials freely banter about anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic tropes.
We can chalk this situation up to the presence of growing Muslim populations in European countries and, one fears, the loss (or willful ignorance) of collective memories of the Holocaust. Since 1945, it has never been more popular or accepted in Europe to attack the Jewish state (utilizing a standard that applies to Israel alone). More than sixty-five years since the end of World War II and the slaughter of millions of European Jews, it is now all the rage among now-enfeebled European powers to exclude Israelis from cultural and intellectual gatherings.
Stay tuned for more updates, especially on possible Israeli counter-actions against the EU.