The EU has finally gone and done it. They have gone over the edge and not only recognized the non-existent “state” of “Palestine”, but they’ve removed Hamas from their list of terror organizations. Then they go ahead and claim that this is an issue of a legal technicality, but in that case one could ask why didn’t they fix the technicality rather than remove a group globally recognized as a leading terror group from its list?
From the first link:
The European Parliament overwhelmingly backed the recognition of a Palestinian state “in principle” on Wednesday, following a series of votes on the issue in EU nations which have angered Israel.
Lawmakers approved the motion by 498 votes to 88 with 111 abstentions, although it was a watered down version of an original motion which had urged EU member states to recognize a Palestinian state unconditionally.
The socialist, greens and radical left groups in the European Parliament had wanted an outright call for the recognition of Palestinian statehood.
But the centre-right European People’s Party of European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, the leading group in parliament, forced them into a compromise motion linking it to peace talks. “There is no immediate unconditional recognition (of statehood),” EPP chief Manfred Weber said.
But his socialist counterpart Gianni Pittella insisted it was a “historic decision” and a “victory for the whole parliament”.
In response to this miserable decision, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has said he will boycott the Swedish Foreign Minister’s visit to Israel next month:
Liberman is refusing to meet Wallström, who is expected to visit next month, in reaction to Stockholm’s decision in October to become the first major European Union member state to back Ramallah’s unilateral statehood bid, the report said.
The foreign minister reportedly indicated that Sweden had intentionally obscured its intention to recognize a Palestinian state, and refused to hear any Israeli arguments opposing the motion.
Other European parliaments that passed similar motions at least considered Israeli officials’ arguments before making their decision, Lieberman said.…Sweden’s move to recognize Palestine in October set off a domino effect among other European parliaments that voted in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state.
Although the recognition, or the recommendation, or approval in principle of such recognition, of a state of Palestine is very bad news for Israel diplomatically and politically, much more egregious and immediately dangerous to Israel is the astonishing removal by the EU of Hamas from their list of terror groups. As the Jerusalem Post reports:
Hamas should be removed from the European Union’s terrorist list, an EU court ruled on Wednesday, saying the decision to include it was based merely on media and internet reports.
However, the General Court of the European Union, the bloc’s second highest tribunal, said EU member states could maintain their freeze on Hamas’s assets for three months to give time for further review or to appeal the ruling.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the decision by saying that Israel was “not satisfied” with the explanations of the EU that Hamas’s removal is only a technical matter.
According to the “technical issue” argument, Hamas was removed from the list because the evidence used to place the organization on the list did not meet European standards. Two central EU countries have already been working on a dossier providing the court with the evidence that will satisfy it.
“The burden of proof is on the EU and we expect them to immediately return Hamas to the list where everyone realizes they should be,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization whose charter says that its aim is to destroy Israel. We will continue to fight it with determination and strength so that it will never realize its aims. ”
The EU’s envoy to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, told an official at the Foreign Ministry that Europe is committed to return Hamas to the list, Israel Radio reported.
In which case why on earth did they remove them from the list in the first place? It is an incomprehensible decision.
Faaborg-Andersen said that Europe is working to bring the evidence against Hamas that would satisfy the court’s requirements.
So 20 years’ worth of evidence is not enough to satisfy the court’s requirements? The mind boggles at what would suffice. The Elder of Ziyon at the Algemeiner writes:
The European Union General Court is saying that it has never independently confirmed that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and that it relied on external sources in making that determination against its own policies.
That’s fine, any organization must follow its written policies.
But this means that ever since the EU was founded in 1993, despite spending tens of thousands of man-hours and untold millions of euros on Middle East topics and on the ground in Israel and the territories, no effort has been made to document Arab terrorism.
Think about it. The EU wants to be a part of the peace process – it is part of the Quartet – and it has given lots of money to anti-Israel NGOs. It has no problem criticizing Israeli actions and parsing the statements of Israeli ministers to find evidence of anything offensive.
Yet in all that time, no EU official has felt it was important to research and report on Arab terrorism! Not one bothered to visit the site of suicide bombings and read official Hamas statements taking credit for them. Not one bothered to follow up on Hamas incitement, on Hamas antisemitism, or on Hamas’ public statements declaring all of Israel “occupied” and all Israelis to be targets for attack.
Apparently, the entire EU presence in the Middle East is meant to document Israeli building in the territories and to ferret out “price tag” attacks. Thousands of pages are written about whether Israeli products that are manufactured on one side of the Green Line but packaged on the other side are considered contraband in Europe. But not one official report has been written that says that Hamas took credit for a terror attack.
There is a huge blind spot in the most studied place on the planet, and yet in 21 years the EU has not been able to write up a single report on Palestinian terrorism.
Is there any more evidence needed of EU bias against Israel than this?
The international diplomatic onslaught on Israel continues unabated in the UN where the Palestinians submitted their umpteenth bid to the Security Council to gain statehood:
The Palestinians submitted a draft United Nations Security Council resolution Thursday that requested a 12-month deadline to reach a peace deal with Israel and designated the end of 2017 as the final date for completing an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The text obtained by AFP said that a “just, lasting and comprehensive peace solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation” and “fulfills the vision” of a Palestinian state should be reached no later than 12 months after the adoption of the resolution.
It also defined a series of parameters for the negotiated solution, including a phased Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories according to a time-frame “not to exceed the end of 2017.”
The Palestinian representative to the UN said there could still be negotiations on the text.
The draft was presented to the Security Council by fellow Arab member Jordan, envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters, thanking Arab and European nations for their assistance and indicating he would not press for a quick vote on the text, to allow for more discussion.
The Palestinians had earlier said they would seek a quick vote on the draft resolution; however, they backed down, apparently under pressure from Arab countries including Jordan, which is seeking a formulation of the resolution that will be acceptable to the United States.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier that Washington had “no problem” with a Palestinian attempt to boost their hopes for statehood, providing it didn’t heighten tensions.
“We haven’t seen the language yet; we don’t know precisely what was filed,” the US diplomat said, adding that Washington had been “troubled by some of the language that had been out there at different points of time.”
We don’t have any problem with them a filing some resolution providing it’s done in the spirit of working with people to see how we could proceed forward in a thoughtful way that solves the problem (and) doesn’t make it worse,” Kerry told reporters at the State Department.
But he added it would be “premature to comment on language we haven’t seen, a process that has not yet fully taken shape.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to comment on Palestinian claims that Kerry had told Erekat Washington would veto the resolution. The French foreign minister had also confirmed earlier this week that the US planned to veto the Palestinian draft in its current form.
Israel fiercely opposes any suggestion that the Security Council impose terms for a Palestinian state, insisting on bilateral negotiations. Talks initiated by Kerry last year broke down in the spring after the two sides couldn’t agree on the ground rules.
One of the reasons for the US’s coyness was that an earlier draft by the French had inserted a clause recognizing Israel as the Jewish homeland. But the final draft, surprise surprise, omitted all reference to Israel as the Jewish state at the insistence of the Palestinians.
Israel’s reaction was fierce, as expected. Yuval Steinitz, the Minister of Intelligence went as far as to call the Palestinian bid “an act of war”:
Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli minister of intelligence, international relations and strategic affairs, said Thursday morning that the Palestinian draft resolution was an “act of war.”
“The Palestinians made sure to remove any mention of Israel’s status as a Jewish state from the draft, which means this is not an act of peace, it’s an act of war,” he told Israel Radio.
Steinitz called for Israel to weigh a harsh response, including cutting off ties with the Palestinian Authority and even dismantling it.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) said the PA’s UN bid served no real purpose, and urged the Security Council to address more pressing matters rather than be taken up with “Palestinian gimmicks.”
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) said Israel should respond with a construction boom in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In a Facebook post, Ariel urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the “silent construction freeze” and strengthen Israeli sovereignty in the capital and in the West Bank. “Judea and Samaria are part of Israel and as legitimate as Tel Aviv and Haifa and instead of apologizing, we should state that clearly,” he wrote.
These are all fine words but excuse my cynicism – they will make headlines in Israel and maybe around the world – for all the wrong reasons for they will be used to demonstrate Israel’s intransigence and inflexibility – yet nothing will change on the ground. Israel will continue to cooperate with the PA, the UN will continue focusing on Israel, and the silent building freeze in the settlements will continue despite the world crying foul on “expanding settlements”.
Almost simultaneously with the multiple European recognitions of a Palestinian state and the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid, Switzerland convened a conference of the Geneva Conventions for the sole purpose of condemning Israel. This may sound like a neutral, even an altruistic, but that impression is wholly wrong:
Switzerland has invited states party to the Fourth Geneva Convention to attend a summit to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem on December 17, despite American and Israeli pressure.
All 196 UN member states are signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and in April 2014 the Palestinian Authority signed accession to the treaty.
“The role of the depositor obliges Switzerland to manage in a neutral and apolitical manner,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The decision of the Swiss government to hold a conference of the signatories [of the Fourth Geneva Convention] raises serious doubt concerning its commitment to these principles as it lends a hand to politicizing the Geneva Convention and the laws of war in general.”
Switzerland plans to hold a three-hour meeting of state ambassadors that will be closed to the media, after which a communiqué will be issued, Haaretz reported. According to the paper, the conference “wasn’t expected to make any operative or binding decisions, but may intensify international criticism of Israeli policy” in the West Bank.
The Foreign Ministry condemned the decision to hold the summit, calling it “a political move whose sole aim is to utilize the important stage of the Geneva Conventions for the sake of denigrating Israel.
“Israel, of course, won’t take part in the conference, in addition to other states that clarified their objection to the Swiss government,” the Foreign Ministry statement said, without mentioning which states. Senior Israeli officials had told Haaretz that the US, Canada and Australia intended to boycott the summit along with Israel. It called on all other signatory states not to take part in the convention.
The Foreign Ministry said it was reevaluating Switzerland’s stances on other international humanitarian law issues in light of its decision to hold the meeting.
Let it be noted that the Geneva Conventions have only ever been convened twice in history, and – you guessed it – both times were to condemn Israel:
Since it was adopted, it has met only twice, in 1999 and 2001, both times to deal with Israel.
That alone speaks volumes about the motivations of the “neutral” Swiss.
As mentioned above, the “civilised West” – Canada, Australia and the US, stayed away from the biased conference:
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement Tuesday that “Canada has conveyed its deep concerns and has communicated clearly that it will neither attend this conference nor lend it any credibility.”
“Canada is deeply disappointed by the convening of this one-sided and politicized conference, which serves only to single out one country, Israel, for criticism. Canada has complete faith in the strength of the rule of law in Israel, and we believe the Israelis are capable of investigating matters surrounding the events that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014.”
“Such a misguided approach will neither serve the cause of peace nor bring the parties closer to a negotiated settlement.”
Australia’s ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma tweeted Tuesday night that his country would also stay away from the conference.
Senior Israeli officials told the Haaretz daily last week that they expected the US to boycott the summit.
The upshot of the conference was the usual babble-speak about Israel, human rights, Palestinians, global warming… oops, I made that last bit up:
Much of the international community delivered a stinging rebuke to Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying Wednesday the practice violates its responsibilities as an occupying power.
A declaration adopted by consensus among 126 of the 196 parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention insists that international humanitarian law must be followed in areas affected by the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Geneva Conventions govern the rules of war and military occupation. Nations that took part in a one-day conference in Geneva “emphasize that all serious violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated and that all those responsible should be brought to justice,” according to the 10-point declaration.
Swiss Ambassador Paul Fivat, who chaired the conference, told reporters afterward the declaration is legally binding on all nations that adopted it.
“This is a signal and we can hope that words count,” Fivat said. The declaration emphasizes one aspect of the Geneva Conventions: a prohibition on colonizing occupied land.
Israel contends the prohibition shouldn’t apply to the West Bank and Gaza because their sovereignty is in limbo, with Jordan and Egypt no longer claiming them and the Palestinians never having their own state.
Another concern raised in the declaration is that Israel should “fully and effectively” respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, meant to protect civilians during times of war including in East Jerusalem and other territories under Israeli control.
Switzerland, as the depositary of the Geneva Conventions, said “the state of Palestine” acceded to the conventions effective April 2 — 25 years after Palestinians first sought membership.
Israel opposed the move, arguing there is no universally recognized Palestinian state and it would complicate peace talks.
In my opinion Israel shouldn’t even dignify this convention of evil with any kind of response. We only come across as defensive and antagonistic. Israel’s response ought to be a stony silence. It’s not as if our response receives any kind of relevant reaction so why bother?
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of international law, writing in the Washington Post, had some pertinent questions for Geneva:
Today, Switzerland convened a conference of State Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to discuss the law of occupation as it pertains to Israel. There have been just a couple of previous occasions when Geneva convened the signatories of its eponymous treaty, and every single one has been about Israel. (Jerusalem, Washington, Ottawa, and Canberra have announced they will snub the confab.)
Yet there is nothing wrong with an international conference to discuss the Fourth Geneva Convention, and to attempt to better understand its requirements as they apply in particular situations. Art. 49(6)’s prohibition of “deportation and transfer” into occupied territory could certainly do with elucidation. (The “deport or transfer” ban is commonly referred to as “settlement building.”)
Indeed, an examination of movement into occupied territory in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Western Sahara, and Cyprus would be both timely and instructive. Needless to say, this is not what the state parties will be discussing. They are, sadly, not interested in the Geneva Conventions, but only their possible use against Israel. But if the State Parties were to want an interesting agenda, here are some questions they might ask.
occupation in all other contexts requires the occupying power to displace and actually function as the governing authority, conditions that do not apply in Gaza and large parts of the West Bank (Area A).
Indeed, an ICRC manual excludes areas like Gaza:
Occupation ceases when the occupying forces are driven out of or evacuate the territory. (emphasis in the original)
How Israel’s occupation squares with the ICRC’s own definition of the term would be a useful subject for the state parties.
A recent Reuters story highlighted how Israeli Arabs are moving “across the Green Line” into homes in eastern Jerusalem. The prohibition on “settlers” applies to the entire “civilian population” of the occupier, and makes no exceptions based ethnicity. Yet in the context of Israel, “settlement activity” by Israelis of non-Jewish ethnicity does not meet with international condemnation. … A further clarification of this issue would be very helpful to understand a variety of settlement related questions that no one is asking, from Russian liability for settlements in Georgia, to whether British and other European residents of Northern Cyprus can be considered “illegal settlers.”
Read his whole article which so clearly demonstrates the hypocrisy and double standards of all the international institutions and do-gooders who condemn Israel with such alacrity while letting the real terrorists get away literally with murder.
The only conclusion that we can draw from all of these anti-Israel moves – the recognition of a Palestinian state by European countries, the EU itself and some of the UN’s institutions; the removal of Hamas from the EU’s terror list; and the convening of the Geneva Conventions conference solely to slam Israel – is that the world regrets having ever having allowed the Jews to create their own homeland in the State of Israel and is now trying its damnedest to turn the clock back to pre-1948, as Anne Bayefsky writes.