Further to the outrageous new EU directive decreeing that there should be no dealings with any Israeli institutions, operations or projects over the pre-1967 lines – aka the 1949 Armistice Lines – a petition organized by Israel’s former Ambassador to Canada and Legal Advisor Alan Baker has gathered over 1,100 signatures declaring that the EU has no right to determine Israel’s borders, which is what this directive would effectively do.
Over 1,000 international lawyers, ambassadors, and professors from 30 different countries signed a petition protesting the European Union’s recent funding ban on Israel’s settlements.
Israel’s former ambassador to Canada and legal advisor, Alan Baker, who heads the Legal Forum for Israel’s International Action Division, initiated the petition and an accompanying letter, which drew widespread support across the world.
The Legal Forum, a legal advocacy group established in 2004, sent out the petition and protest letter to EU officials earlier this week.
In July, the European Union issued a directive barring its 28 member states from funding projects and ending cooperation with Israeli institutions in in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem.
According to Baker, the directive is discriminatory and based on a legal premise that is completely wrong. “The EU is incorrectly asserting that the pre-1967 lines are Israel’s borders and that the settlements are illegal. That is a misreading of international law,” Baker told Tazpit News Agency in an exclusive interview.
Baker believes that the EU’s recent calls are “absolutely unacceptable” and states that it was one of main reasons why the Legal Forum had first written the letter.
“It has not been determined that the 1949 armistice lines are Israel’s borders– that is one of the issues up for negotiations along with the settlements,” explains Baker. “The parties have to determine these issues at the negotiating table themselves; the EU has overstepped its status and has no right to take international law into its own hands.”
The 1,100 signatures supporting the letter include lawyers as well as rabbis, senior ambassadors, and professors – both Jewish and Christian – from Australia, Britain, Bolivia, Greece, Norway, Mexico, Taiwan, France, Italy, Canada, the U.S., and India, among others.
Israeli Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, former Israeli ambassador to the United States Meir Rosenne, and UK House of Lords member Baroness Ruth Deech are among those who signed the letter.
“The EU feels that it can take this liberty with Israel. It has a fixation, an obsession with the Jewish state and it has shown that it is not an impartial player in the peace process,” said Baker. “With this letter, we hope that EU members working with Catherine Ashton will consider a more impartial policy towards this area of the world.”
Watch the interview with Baker below.
Kol hakavod to Mr. Baker and the Legal Forum for their initiative. I hope it receives the appropriate wide attention from the media as well as from all diplomatic forums.
In addition to this excellent initiative, Israeli diplomats, who had been blamed for not anticipating or warning of the EU’s upcoming directive, asserted that they had been deliberately misled by EU officials (emphases are mine):
Israel’s envoy to the EU warned the Israeli government in March and again in May about the European Union’s plans to implement an unprecedented directive banning all EU cooperation with, and funding of, Israeli entities with any links to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Maariv reported Friday.
But the Israeli envoy and his colleagues were misled by EU officials over two critical aspects of the new directive, according to the report in Maariv. Specifically, EU staffers, led by the European Commission’s Director of the Middle East Department Christian Berger, did not tell either Israeli diplomats or even the EU’s own commissioners that the directive would ban EU dealings even with Israeli entities that have only minor connections over the pre-67 lines, and that Israeli entities would have to state that they have no dealings over the pre-67 lines as a condition for receiving any EU funds.
Maariv quoted from a cable sent recently to ministry staff by Israel’s Ambassador to the European Union David Walzer, in which he broke his silence over the harsh criticisms he has faced in recent weeks from the Israeli government for allegedly not anticipating the move, which was described as an “earthquake” by senior Israeli officials when the news broke last month.
In March, documents quoted by Maariv indicate, Walzer wrote a classified briefing to Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and ministry Director-General Rafael Barak, warning that EU officials were working on a draft of the new guidelines.
He sent another missive in May after he and his staff received a briefing from Berger about the general sense of the guidelines.
The Israeli diplomats were assured by Berger that they would be able to take a look at the draft before the guidelines were adopted, Maariv reported, but Walzer’s office only received the document on July 5 whereas EU members had the document since June 28 and adopted it on June 30.
The envoy insisted that his office was not asleep on the job, adding in his recent cable that he hoped “the injustice done to the diplomats [in this embassy] is corrected” and that the “stain on our reputation is removed as quickly as it was applied.”
Walzer’s office was aware of most of the clauses in the EU document but was blindsided by the formulation of some, Maariv reported. “The foreign ministries of other European Union members didn’t know about them either,” Maariv reported, “and nor did the EU’s representatives in Israel.” Berger “hid from everybody” the true extent of the directives “because he knew he was going much further than the original intention,” Maariv reported. The European officials “hid the most serious clauses,” it quoted an Israeli staffer as saying.
In response, Maariv quoted bitter Foreign Ministry officials as saying, “Most of the information was passed on to Jerusalem. What they [the EU] tried to hide, even its offices in Ramat Gan did not know about. [The Israeli government] can’t have expected us [to obtain information we didn’t know about]. Even the Shin Bet was not able to find out where Gilad Shalit was being held, despite its vast intelligence resources in Gaza.”
There is no reason to disbelieve Walzer since presumably all his moves and messages have been documented. Of course the Foreign Ministry being on strike until last week might have played a large part in the fiasco, but there is also plenty of room to believe that the EU were being deliberately manipulative, if not outright lying.
Hopefully, the Legal Forum’s petition together with this damning information by David Walzer will be enough to embarrass the EU into cancelling their racist and illogical directive.
Then again, logic and the EU don’t go together well.