Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Prejudiced EU declaration

The European Commission of the EU has taken a prejudicial decision regarding Israel's borders by issuing guidelines that prevent any EU funding to any Israeli entity beyond the green line, the former ceasefire line between Israel and Jordan. While the EU never recognized the West Bank encompassed by this line to be Jordanian territory, and while no recognized Palestinian sovereign entity actually exists, nevertheless this is a one-sided unilateral decision that can only be classified as pro-Palestinian. At a time when we are told by the UN that 6,000 Syrians are fleeing their country every day, while there is continuing street battles over the fate of Egypt, why would the EU decide to issue this ruling on Tisha Be'av, the very day that Jews fast to commemorate the fall of both Temples in Jerusalem?

It has been said by the EU and their supporters that this ruling only implements what has been informal EU policy for years, namely that all Israeli (Jewish) settlements in the territory conquered by Israel in 1967, namely in Judea, Samaria (known together as the West Bank)and East Jerusalem are "illegal." But, this general approach ignores three major aspects of the situation:
1. The legality of Jewish settlement. Under the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that was issued by the British Government and the subsequent San Remo Treaty of 1920 and the League of Nations Mandate given to Britain in 1922 to administer Palestine for the establishment of a Jewish "homeland," there was no exclusion of these areas from any future Jewish State. In fact, the unilateral division of the Mandate by Britain to form the Arab State of Transjordan (now Jordan) was illegal under international law.
2. Consistent with the legality of settlement in these areas prior to the War of Israeli Independence in 1948 there were several legal Jewish settlements in these areas, for example Gush Etzion, which was legally purchased and consisted of three Jewish settlements. They were destroyed and razed to the ground and the Jewish inhabitatns were killed by marauding Arab gangs in 1948, but they were re-settled and re-built in 1967 after the Six-Day War when Israel was attacked and then captured this territory.
3. Israel refrained from incorporating Judea and Samaria into sovereign Israel pending peace negotiations with the Arabs (although after the 1967 war Israel did incorporate East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, from Syria, that are now sovereign Israeli territory). Thus, Israel's eastern border has never been ratified. This EU action unilaterally in effect classifies the West Bank as Palestinian territory in which Israel has no rights. This is completely contrary to all prior UN decisions that leaves the determination of any border between Israel and any sovereign Arab entity in the West Bank to peace negotiations.

The Israeli PM and the Cabinet reacted angrily to this unilateral EU declaration. It will have consequences, not only will it eliminate the EU as a potential arbiter of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, something that the EU has been angling for for years in order to replace the US that they consider too pro-Israel. But, it will also damage EU support for Palestinian activities in area C of the West Bank, that was agreed under the Oslo Accords to be the Palestine Authority (that is not a sovereign state). In response Israel will use its power to prevent EU activities in the PA to the detriment of their interests. Also, there are already ca. 70,000 Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria and this EU declaration will do nothing to change that.


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