In what could be termed “a perfect storm”, both the EU and the US have chosen this precise moment,at a time when we are under constant attack by Palestinian terrorists in our streets and our homes, to defame us, to delegitimize us, and to institute a partial boycott on some of our communities.
The EU passed controversial legislation by which agreements with Israel will not apply to territories beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines.
n the convoluted wording of the resolution, it states, “The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”
“This does not constitute a boycott of Israel which the EU strongly opposes,” it added.
The moves comes several hours after reports of friction between foreign ministers over the harsh wording of the resolution, which some countries found to be overly critical of the Jewish state.
Despite Netanyahu’s lobbying, the vote was held as planned, though his diplomatic push did succeed in prompting several countries to demand a softer version of the resolution.
A clause requiring EU member states to draw a distinction between Israel-proper and territories over the 1949 Armistice lines was subsequently dropped from the final version of the resolution.
The EU resolution concludes that “settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.”
It thus urges Israel “to end all settlement activity and to dismantle the outposts erected since March 2001, in line with prior obligations.”
As can be expected Israel is outraged at the decision.
A broadside from US Ambassador Dan Shapiro further stunned Israel when he accused it of using double standards in the West Bank. I guess as an American representative he should know all about double standards.
i24 News has a summary of the latest delegitimization efforts by our ostensible allies (who claim to only want to save us from ourselves, to do what’s best for us or to save our souls, because of course they know better than us what is good for us):
US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro stunned the crowd Monday at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) with an unprecedented critique of Israel’s policies in the West Bank. Speaking just last week with the foreign press, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the “extraordinary relationship” with the United States, and Shapiro followed suit, opening his remarks with the usual praise for the relationship. But then his comments questioning the Israeli strategy in the West Bank and implying a double standard in the application of the rule of law towards Israelis and the Palestinians, made clear – the unbreakable and unshakable alliance is under some serious strain.
In the past five years since he entered his post, Shapiro has been one of the only popular and likeable messengers of the Obama administration, and he has usually refrained from publicly intertwining himself into the never-ending saga of tensions between the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. However, this is the second time within a month he has publicly criticized Israel, following his statement rebuking the controversial Israeli NGO bill. If anyone in the Israeli government is wondering, this is a sign that Washington is really fed up.
Minutes after the Prime Minister’s Office slammed Shapiro’s remarks as unacceptable coming on the day of the funeral of a mother of six who was killed in a terror attack, another dark wind entered Israel’s diplomatic skies; the EU Foreign Affairs Council released its periodical statement on the Middle East peace process. While it is interesting that the European continent still uses the word “peace”, when in Israel and the Palestinian Authority the more commonly used term is “conflict”, the more contentious segment of the statement reiterated the EU’s distinction between Israel and the territories beyond the 1967 borders. In recent days, Jerusalem was fearful, even hysterical, that the EU would publish a resolution worsening the European policy and broadening it to bilateral agreements between Israel and each of the 28 member states, so the Prime Minister and Foreign Ministry exerted intense diplomatic activity to thwart the “malicious” winds blowing from significant European capitals.
Jerusalem’s new European best friends, the emerging “east Mediterranean alliance” of Greece and Cyprus, came to save the day together with other eastern-European countries, using the consensus clause demanded of every EU foreign policy decision to soften the wording, so that the resolution eventually only clarified and affirmed the existing policy, even including an explicit opposition to boycotts. Next week, Netanyahu will be meeting these countries’ leaders in Nicosia for a trilateral meeting; besides discussing gas, energy and security, the premier also owes them a big show of gratitude.
Arlene Kushner brings us more background and goes into detail about the illegality and illegitimacy of the EU’s decision:
Yesterday evening, the EU passed a resolution stipulating that all agreements between Israel and the EU not apply to any areas over the 1949 armistice line, which they refer to as the “1967 border”:
“The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”
This followed intense diplomat efforts by Israel to forestall this EU action. And Israel is now furious. The EU is prejudging a situation (assuming Israel has no rights in any of Judea and Samaria), when this has not been determined.
I cite here in its entirety the statement on this issue put out by Legal Grounds, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube (with emphasis added):
“…Legal Grounds says the expected EU decision distinguishing between Israel proper and the territories it captured in 1967 ‘violates the legal rights of the State of Israel and constitutes a blunt violation of the principles established in the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is party in its position as witness. It seems the EU cannot serve as honest broker in the foreseeable future.’
“[Legal Grounds], working to establish Israel’s rights according to international law, strongly condemns the decision, which, it says, lacks any legal basis.
“’The line called the 1967 line is nothing more than the armistice line of 1948. The EU is certainly aware that the ceasefire agreement signed in the Greek island of Rhodes in 1949 clearly maintains that the line “in no way constitutes a political or state border.”’
“The EU has chosen to ignore Israel’s preferential position as claimant to the territory, which according to international law is considered ‘disputed.’ Furthermore…the European Union is violating its role as guarantor of the implementation of the Oslo Accords which contain a basic principle according to which the question of borders will be decided solely by negotiations.’”
Arlene goes on to lambaste US Ambassador Dan Shapiro for his condemnation of ostensible Israeli discrimination against Palestinians, and against “settler violence” – this on the day when a mother of 6 was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist.
Lastly here I mention the offensive statement of US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, made at “a high-profile security conference Monday, a rare public rebuke.”
“He alleged that Israel restricts Palestinian economic development in the PA-run territories and bemoaned what he called an inadequate response to ‘settler’ violence.
“’Too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.’”
The government of Israel is enraged by these distortions (and others included in Shapiro’s remarks). What Shapiro said – which undoubtedly reflects the direction that Obama intends to take in his last year – is enough to raise the blood pressure of anyone who understands what is going on in Judea and Samaria with the PA.
As to “restricting Palestinian economic development,” it is the exceedingly corrupt PA that does this. Israel actually fails to act in her own best interest fiscally with regard to the PA relationship. We continue, for example, to supply electricity to PA areas in spite of an astronomic bill that has not been paid, and part of which is being forgiven.
But far more outrageous – obscene – is talk of “settler violence” at a time when residents of Judea and Samaria are victims of ongoing Arab violence, and endure death, injury, and an environment that is continuously stressful. Many of those residents feel, correctly or not, that the IDF has not done enough to protect them. I cannot share here what I would like to say to Shapiro out of concern for my professionalism as a journalist.
And then there is the charge by Shapiro that Israel has two standards of adherence to the law, “one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.” Actually, there is some truth to what he says, except that he has it exactly backwards.
Jewish non-authorized building in Judea and Samaria is demolished much more quickly than is the blatantly illegal EU-funded Arab construction in Area C. Those of us who monitor the situation with concern for Jewish rights have seen again and again situations in which there was a question about Jewish ownership of a property – a question, resulting from Arab claims, that that had not yet been definitively answered – and the housing on the property was taken down.
But the illegal Arab building? It has been necessary to publicize this building, to petition the courts, because the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria – while now improving its stance! – has been habitually slow to respond for reasons of political correctness. Because the world is watching and won’t like it (which is something Netanyahu alluded to in his statement in the video linked above).
Part of what triggered the US Ambassador’s tirade was likely the NGO Transparency Bill that is making its way through the Knesset. This bill calls for NGOs who receive more than 50% of their budget from foreign governments to be clearly identified and to list their donors. The reaction from the Left – since it is almost entirely Leftist NGOs who receive such foreign government funding (not from private donors) – has been hysterical, with accusations of discrimination, the end of democracy and other doomsday hysteria.
An excellent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post by Jan Sokolovsky and Ariela Cotler (h/t Arlene Kushner) takes apart these Leftist accusations, asking “Who’s undermining democracy?”:
The easiest way to respond to the almost hysterical attacks against the NGO transparency bill regarding funding by foreign governments, now before the Knesset – including that of US Ambassador Dan Shapiro – is simply to read it, because the attacks are baseless.
The bill does not stifle freedom of speech; it is not aimed at left-wing organizations; it does not seek to shut down any organization. In fact, it is politically neutral, and requires only enhanced transparency from anyone, Right or Left, who receives significant funding from a foreign entity and engages in political activity. It does not undermine democracy in any way.
It would also seem that the opponents were caught by surprise with this bill, although actually it had a long gestation period.
Almost 10 years ago, observers experienced in legal and judicial matters detected a disturbing increase in petitions to the High Court of Justice on politically sensitive issues, filed by a small group of NGOs. Some were funded by foreign nations, and seemed to be influenced by the foreign policy of their donor nations.
It was understood that additional legislation was needed, so we resumed our efforts to prepare a full law parallel to the US FARA law. Unfortunately, as the bill, sponsored by MKs Elkin, Michaeli, Rotem and Schneller, made its way through the Knesset hearings, it was shortened and diluted, until only a much weakened version, the Law Requiring Disclosure by those Receiving Funding from Foreign Entities, was adopted in September 2011.
Then, as now, opponents of that law falsely claimed that it aimed to close down all left-wing organizations, and would stifle freedom of speech. Committee hearings resounded with irresponsible shouts of “communist”, “fascist”,” McCarthyist.” By contrast, the last sentence of the explanatory paragraph to the bill correctly and rationally states, “This law balances well between the right of organizations in a democratic country to operate freely, and the right of the Israeli public to know who is financing their operations.”
The current bill is a series of amendments to the 2011 law, specifying the circumstances in which foreign funded groups must list their donor nations. When they meet with MKs and their staff, shouldn’t our legislators and officials know who is supporting their visitors? And now to Ambassador Shapiro.
After meeting with Shaked, he issued two statements, one about the Israeli bill and the second adamantly and incorrectly distinguishing the US FARA law from the Israeli bill.
In describing the meeting, Shapiro sought more information about the draft legislation from the minister, and noted the US government’s “concerns on the matter.”
His second statement purported to distinguish between FARA and the Israeli bill, but his description of FARA is facile, almost disingenuous and completely misleading. He claimed that the Israeli bill is draconian while FARA has practically no effect on foreign funded NGOs: “FARA requires individuals or organizations to register as foreign agents only if they engage in certain specified activities at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal – not simply by receiving contributions from such an entity. As a result, it does not create the chilling effect on NGO activities that we are concerned about in reviewing the draft Israeli NGO law.”
The “certain specified activities” which Shapiro so obliquely refers to, and seeks to minimize, are at the heart of the FARA law. They are precisely “political activities”.
The recent EU grant of €30,000 to B’tselem to combat the transparency bill is irrefutable evidence of the direction of the foreign donor to the NGO to directly interfere with our legislative process. What could be a more blatant undermining of Israeli democracy by a foreign government? But usually, the “control” is more subtle, implicit. The donor country has a foreign policy critical of Israel policy on some issue, and the funded NGOs undertake programs in Israel to attack that policy – by organizing protests, conferences, writing articles and “reports”, lobbying in the Knesset and with other public officials.
Sovereign nations are the major leagues. They have an all-star lineup of ways to implement their foreign policy – diplomacy, sanctions, boycotts, the UN. Witness the EU”s labeling of products from Judea and Samaria, or the Swedish foreign minister complaining about Israeli “extrajudicial executions” of terrorists. Can anyone explain why foreign nations should be entitled to field another team, Israeli NGOs, to implement the same policies and not be required to disclose this fact? It is no coincidence that the activities of these NGOs conform to the foreign policy of their donors. Even without a written document, both parties understand their mutual obligations.
Its opponents loudly declaim that the bill is the death knell to Israeli democracy. In truth, this charge is hypocrisy at its height, since the critics acknowledge that the majority in Israel, democratically elected, does not agree with their positions.
Yet, they unashamedly claim the right to undermine the will of the Israeli public, by intruding into our judicial and legislative systems, because they represent some “global democratic society”.
Arlene Kushner’s conclusions in her article draw on these double standards and her recommendations are spot on:
When the world is behaving with relative moderation concerning Israel, there is the inclination, however misguided, to step carefully so as not to ruffle feathers.
But now it is clear that we cannot win no matter what we do. Israel will not find justice in this world.
And so it’s time to stop worrying what the world thinks and act unequivocally in our own best interest. Nurture appropriate ties with other nations – absolutely! Netanyahu is doing a great deal with regard to reaching out to nations in the east, and, quietly, to Sunni Arab states. Make our case forcefully and coherently at all times. Indeed!
She is absolutely right. But where is the leadership of our country? What is the point of Netanyahu and his members reacting in outrage against the EU when they should have been proactively working towards stopping this new legislation? Making last-minute pleas is not a long-term strategy. Why has the Levy Report not been implemented when he himself commissioned it?
Similarly, combatting the lies and insidious defamation of BDS and their cohorts – which makes even friends like US Ambassador Shapiro lay such extreme accusations against Israel – requires a well-funded public diplomacy government ministry, not just to rely on the ability of Israel’s volunteer hasbara and PR activists. It requires a full-time Foreign Minister, not just a deputy. Netanyahu should either upgrade Tzipy Hotovely’s position to Minister and give up his own ministership or he should pass it on to someone he thinks more qualified. This is not a political game any more. Our very existence as sovereign in our own land is becoming dependent on this.