TÁNAISTE EAMON Gilmore has said Ireland may push for the EU to ban goods from Israeli settlements if Israel does not quickly change its settlements policy in Palestinian territories.
Mr Gilmore has also said the Government may seek to have certain extremist settlers banned from the EU if they do not stop their violence in settlement areas.
The Tánaiste was speaking in Brussels after EU foreign ministers unanimously agreed to issue a communique saying the settlements threaten to make a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict impossible. The ministers decried “the marked acceleration of settlement construction” following a 2010 moratorium, and criticised evictions and demolitions in east Jerusalem. “It’s a very strong statement, particularly in relation to the illegal settlements on the West Bank, which are making the achievement of a two-state solution in the Middle East impossible,” Mr Gilmore said.
“I think we may have to look at the question of banning products from settlement areas into the EU. We have always resisted the idea of boycotts in relation to Israel. But I think a distinction has to be drawn here between Israel and the settlements.”
Mr Gilmore said he spoke for the Government on these points. Asked if he thought Ireland’s presidency of the EU next year would provide a platform to advance the Government’s case, he said: “I do, yes.” ‘
Israel said the EU conclusions included a long list of claims and criticism “which are based on a partial, biased and one-sided depiction of realities on the ground”.
Blogger (and regular commenter on this site) Robert Harris, who blogs at Eirael andCrethi Plethi, has written an excellently researched analysis of the proposed boycott, its background, and the implications of its further spread to the EU. I will just quote some excerpts (all emphases are mine) because it is quite a long read, but go to his blog and read the whole thing. It will shock and depress you but it is necessary to know whom and what we are fighting.
Robert first addresses the proposed boycott itself:
Gilmore also seeks the banning of some Jewish settlers from entering the EU due to “violence”:
Mr Gilmore has also said the Government may seek to have certain extremist settlers banned from the EU if they do not stop their violence in settlement areas. […]
“I think at that stage if there isn’t a change in Israeli policy in relation to settlements in particular, I think we may have to look at some additional measures,” the Tánaiste said.
These “additional measures” are largely left unsaid but if he wishes to censure settler communities then it is possible they will be treated in a similar fashion to terrorist organisations. He may suggest proscribing settler advocacy groups, individuals convicted of violence against Palestinians, and even those associated with activism. Somewhat similar ideas were proposed by EU diplomats in an official report last year, concerning “settlers” in East Jerusalem.
The statement is of note as Gilmore said he spoke for the Government, and their policy will be pursued further when Ireland gets the rotating EU presidency next January.
Robert next addresses the timing of the boycott proposal, which is not as random as one might have thought:
Gilmore announced his boycott proposal on May 14th, immediately after a meeting with his European ministerial counterparts, where he may have discussed the idea. The meeting led to the issuing of a particularlyantagonistic statement on Jewish settlements in the West Bank, where the EU effectively accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, especially in relation to the small Palestinian minority in Area C, which represents a few percent of its West Bank populace.
The EU threatened Israel’s authority by refusing to accept Israeli planning law in relation to Area C of the contested West Bank, asserting the legitimacy of illegal Palestinian development. Area C is under Israel’s control via the Oslo treaty, until a peace deal is signed.
Coinciding with Gilmore’s proposal, the ministers issued theircommuniqué on the eve of Naqba Day, a day commonly seen as a protest against Israel’s very creation in 1948. The date seems unduly coincidential, especially when considering it was the eve of the first anniversary of Naqba Day 2011, notable for causing the worst violence of the conflict the year previously. Thus, its issuing was in part likely to be a detrimental gesture of appeasement.
Next to be addressed is the context of the proposed boycott:
Gilmore’s proposal appears to be an expansion of a prior report issued in 2011. Consular officials heading the EU diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a report calling for East Jerusalem to be treated as the capital of a Palestinian state. …
The report recommends that EU officials and politicians refuse to visit government offices located beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines, and decline any Israeli security in East Jerusalem. The document proposes that visiting EU officials should not avail of any Israeli businesses that operate in East Jerusalem, nor archaeological sites operated by “pro-settler organizations.”
It advocates an EU presence at house evacuations and demolitions, court hearings, and to “ensure EU intervention when Palestinians are arrested or intimidated by Israeli authorities for peaceful cultural, social or political activities in East Jerusalem.”
Some commentators felt the severity of the report, including its focus on practical overtly intrusive actions harmful to the State, represented the first concrete steps toward the EU instituting sanctions against Israel in its entirety.The Palestinian Authority also campaignsforcefully for the boycott of the settlements even though a boycott runs counter to the Oslo Accords where trade barriers are to be avoided.
Robert Harris then asks if the settlements prevent peace in the first place:
It would seem that Gilmore has accepted Abbas’ excuses for not coming to the peace table, by exaggerating rather absurdly the scale of the settlements, which merely represent around 2% of the West Bank.
Thus, the Palestinians are simply play-acting, using the settlement issue as little more than a ruse to avoid talking peace.
He turns his attention to the legality of the settlements too:
The legal status of the settlements is actually far more complex than Gilmore et al allow. Article Six of the British Mandate established the legal precedent for permitting close Jewish settlement Eastward to the Jordan River but the mandated administration never properly discharged its mission. Moreover, the UN is not entitled to declare settlements illegal. Article 80 of the Charter prevents prior international bodies being overruled.
Robert takes FM Gilmore to task for his hypocrisy, albeit without accusing him of overt anti-Semitism:
While in front of news cameras, Netanyahu asked Gilmore at considerable length to criticise Palestinian incitement. Gilmore, who has been intensely vocal about Jewish settlements for a long time, pointedly failed to even briefly mention the issue of incitement, nor the then recent glorification of the killers of the Fogel family on PA television.
Gilmore often asserts that he is not anti-Israeli, that he merely speaks up for Palestinian rights. However, he cannot have it both ways. Anyone who advocates a boycott against Israeli settlers is anti-Israeli, even if they draw a sharp distinction with an overall boycott and seek a two-state solution, if they do not seek censure of the Palestinian side as well.
Robert Harris now comes to the meat of the article, when he writes about the “EU’s manifest hatred of the Jewish State”:
The EU/EEC has been hostile to Israel for decades. Their stance has been defined by self-interest, rather than any concerns over humanitarianism. Initially, fears over oil security, particularly after the OPEC crisis, were intensified by a keener hostility from the French and Irish, both of which desired to court the Arab world economically. Since 9/11, oil security melded with a great concern over Islamism, due to an ever-increasing Muslim presence in Europe.The EU issue frequent reports, which are derived from sources known to be highly prejudicial, that perpetuate many untruths about the conflict. It displays a shockingly lax attitude toward terrorism and the incitement of violence.
They demanded that the EU reiterate its position that it will not recognise any changes to the June 1967 Israeli boundaries, that a Palestinian state must be “territory equivalent to 100% of the territory occupied in 1967”, its capital East Jerusalem. They wanted the EU to give Israel an ultimatum that if their demands were not met in six months, the EU would seek an end to the US peace process in favour of a UN solution!This oddly pugnacious attitude toward Israel stands in stark contrast to its soft approach to that of other conflicts, the only exception being the present civil war in Syria, albeit a conflict on a very different scale, where at least10,000 civilians have been killed, 65,000+ are missing, and 200,000+ imprisoned,
As to EU funding for Palestinians, they seem to have very little interest in where their money goes and to what ends:
Indeed, the EU has for a long time displayed a bizarrely disinterested attitude with regard to its funding. Of the enormous sums it sends to the PA, it has been noted for some time that a very substantial portion goes to terrorists and the families of “martyrs”.
Itamar Marcus and the folks at Palestinian Media Watch do what every single diplomat and foreign ministry engaging or funding the Palestinian Authority (PA) should: Watch Palestinian television to see what the PA is saying. Today, they release two shockers.
First, this, showing what European Union cash sponsors:
PA TV program for youth, Speak Up, glorified the 91 terrorists saying they were: “More honored than all of us… They are the greatest role models for us.” The TV program is co-produced by PA TV and PYALARA, an NGO for youth funded by the EU, Save the Children and other international donors.
A Palestinian NGO, the Burj Luq-Luq Social Center Society organization, performed a puppet show for children in East Jerusalem to promote non-smoking. The educational message delivered by the puppets instructed children to replace cigarettes with machine guns:
The EU’s extraordinary behaviour toward Israel could be characterised as if they see the Jewish State as a wayward colony, over which they have some sort of entitlement, It manifests as an arrogance that often crosses into bullying.
It needs to be pointed out that the grievance felt by many Palestinian Arabs is not driven by the settlement issue. It has been shown repeatedly,such as in polls, that a majority do not seek a long-term peaceful co-existence with Israeli’s.
This conflict is not about the settlements. It is about Israel’s existence in Dar al-Islam. The flat denial that Islamism is the true force behind the violence against Israel, when we see the effects of it blighting Africa and Asia on a daily basis in the news, is an affront to the truth. Why is the West willing to hand it over, akin to Czechoslovakia in 1938?
It is an effort to isolate Israel from the Greater Western sphere, an effort by Europeans to shield themselves from the Islamism that threatens them due to an ever-growing Muslim populace.
Again, I highly recommend that you invest the time to read the whole article. You will be outraged and saddened, but it will be an education.
At the top of this post I have inserted a picture banner, designed by Crethi Plethi, which when you click on it, will take you to an online petition saying “No” to any boycott of Israel. Please sign the petition and show your support for Israel. I have placed this banner in my sidebar on the right too which will stay up as long as this issue is relevant.