EU concern over settlement building
By Donald Macintyre, 10 January 2011
See also FCO statement; and the related Ha’aretz report EU diplomats say East Jerusalem should be treated as Palestinian capital
The European Union is so troubled by the increased settlement activity of Israel it has proposed that EU officials should be present at the site of imminent house demolitions or evictions and intervene if non-violent Palestinians face arrest in East Jerusalem, according to a new confidential report.
The proposal, sent from the EU’s top officials in Israel to their superiors in Brussels, is one of several for strengthening the EU’s support for Palestinians in East Jerusalem. EU officials warn that Jewish settlement activity there is making a two-state solution to the conflict increasingly difficult.
The document, prepared for internal circulation by the 25 EU Consuls General in the city, says: “Israel has left Palestinian neighbourhoods ever more isolated” and “by legal and practical means, is actively pursuing its [illegal] annexation by systematically undermining the Palestinian presence in the city.”
The Consuls-General – who are the ambassador-level representatives to the Palestinian Authority – suggest that in addition to being present when houses are demolished, they should attend court hearings dealing with demolitions or evictions and “ensure EU intervention when Palestinians are arrested or intimidated by Israeli authorities for peaceful cultural, social or political activities in East Jerusalem”.
Using markedly stronger language than EU ministers use in public when criticising Israel, the document states: “If current trends are not stopped as a matter of urgency, the prospect of East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state becomes increasingly unlikely and unworkable. This, in turn, seriously endangers the chances of a sustainable peace on the basis of two states, with Jerusalem as their future capital.”
The document says that the cumulative effect of Israeli policy towards East Jerusalem Palestinians – including settlement building, demolitions and evictions, but also “restrictive zoning and planning, ongoing demolitions and evictions, an inequitable education policy, difficult access to health care, the inadequate provision of resources and investment” continue to “negatively affect” Palestinian life.
It adds: “The wider political consequences of the above measures are of great concern. Over the past few years the changes to the city have run counter to the peace process. Attempts to exclusively emphasise the Jewish identity of the city threaten its religious diversity and radicalise the conflict, with potential regional and global repercussions.”
09 January 2011
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt responds to reports that work has begun to enable creation of a new illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
Alistair Burt said:
“The British Government reaffirms its strong, long-standing opposition to the creation of this new illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and condemns today’s demolition in Sheikh Jerrah. The establishment and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.
We oppose provocative unilateral actions such as this, which hinder efforts to resume talks between the two parties leading to a two-state solution to this conflict, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states living side by side in peace and security. That is the way forward. This latest settlement activity does not help – on the contrary, it raises tensions unnecessarily.“
EU consuls in Palestinian Authority recommend boycotting Israeli products from East Jerusalem, call for EU officials to be present at home demolitions and evacuations.
Nir Hasson, 11 January 2011
East Jerusalem should be treated as the capital of the Palestinian state, according to a report compiled by the heads of European diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah. The report includes several other unprecedented recommendations to the European Union regarding its attitude toward East Jerusalem.
The European diplomats, mainly consuls, also recommend that EU officials and politicians refuse to visit Israeli government offices that are located beyond the Green Line and that they decline any Israeli security in the Old City and elsewhere in East Jerusalem.
The report, which was completed last month, was sent to the EU’s main foreign policy body, the Political and Security Committee in Brussels. It was apparently not released at the time due to the sensitivity of its content.
The diplomats’ report also discusses the possibility of preventing “violent settlers in East Jerusalem” from being granted entry into EU countries. In the area of commerce, it recommends encouraging a boycott of Israeli products from East Jerusalem.
The first part of the report details construction and expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem, the infringement of human rights of Palestinian residents of the eastern part of the city, as well as inequality in education and medical services available to Palestinians. The report concludes that beyond their humanitarian significance, these conditions weaken the Palestinian hold on the city.
European criticism of Israeli policy in the territories and particularly East Jerusalem is not new. But the dramatic turn in the report can be seen in the operative steps it recommends, which in fact constitute the foundations for sanctions against Israel.
For example, the document proposes that visiting senior EU officials not use Israeli businesses operating in East Jerusalem, such as hotels and transportation companies, and that archaeological sites operated by “pro-settler organizations” (a reference to the City of David National Park ) not be visited.
The report goes on to suggest that public awareness be raised about settlement products, “for instance by providing guidance on origin labeling for settlement products to major EU retailers,” and that EU citizens be informed “of the financial risks involved in purchasing property in occupied East Jerusalem.”
The diplomats also recommend that the EU encourage Israel to allow the reopening of Palestine Liberation Organization offices in East Jerusalem, in keeping with the road map. Israel closed the PLO institutions during the second intifada.
EU diplomats are called on to express great concern during their meetings with senior Israeli officials over the state of emergency services to East Jerusalem Arabs, the report also says.
It added that EU officials should be present at house demolitions or evacuations from homes, as well as at court hearings on such issues, and “ensure EU intervention when Palestinians are arrested or intimidated by Israeli authorities for peaceful cultural, social or political activities in East Jerusalem”.
The report further recommends that the European Union “encourage Arab countries to acknowledge the multicultural dimension of Jerusalem, including its Jewish and Christian heritage.”