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In a resolution long on rhetoric but short on concrete actions, the ministers called for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning Trump’s decision, but acknowledged that Washington would most likely veto it.
“It is high time to stop waiting for Washington, Moscow, Budapest or Jerusalem. It is time to stand up for human rights, to demand nothing short of an end to the occupation, and to spell out how European leadership will effectively reject the unacceptable reality of the past 50 years. Backed by an almost global consensus reiterated in last year’s UN Security Council resolution 2334, in solidarity with Palestinians and likeminded Israelis, and together with international actors near and far – this is a task to be realized by a genuine coalition committed to non-violence, human rights, and justice. Europe, wake up.”
Netanyahu’s Israel openly mocks the values that Europe claims to hold dear. When will European leaders stand up and reject the unacceptable reality of the past 50 years?
By Hagai El-Ad
Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian boy during protests against Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Hebron, West Bank, December 7, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
European foreign ministers attending Prime Minister Netanyahu’s breakfast in Brussels this Monday may find their thoughts wandering, as the guest of honor once again speaks of Iran, self-indulgent whining of “double standards,” and “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Some breakfasts are more difficult to swallow than others.
And so, given a recent speech by a certain American president, the attending ministers’ thoughts may drift — perhaps to the occupied Palestinian territories. They may ask themselves some of the questions Israeli governments have consistently refused to address, such as: given how Israel’s grasp over the West Bank is being further cemented, why does Netanyahu’s government even bother to pay lip service to the “peace process?” And isn’t Israel’s policy of forced displacement of Palestinians from parts of the occupied territories a war crime? How many hours of electricity a day does Israel plan to ration for the 2 million Palestinians living at its doorstep in the Gaza Strip next week? And, embassy fanfare aside, what about the 370,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, living with no political rights since Israel’s annexation half a century ago?
Such unanswered questions may leave one’s mouth dry, and so the very same questions may percolate closer to home. For if Israel continues to cement its grasp all over the West Bank, why does Europe take seriously the occasional Israeli lip service to the “peace process?” And as Israel’s policy of forcibly displacing Palestinians from parts of the occupied territories is indeed a war crime, what is the EU’s effective counteraction? And for how much longer will the lie of “Israeli democracy,” alongside a 21st-century version of institutionalized oppression and dispossession, be accepted at Europe’s doorstep?
Here’s a caffeine shot: it is all good and well to forever be disappointed by others while standing by and watching as unilateral moves become fait accompli. But it is Europe that has worn away its own credibility for years by repeatedly “expressing concern” over “the eroding possibility” of bringing an end to the occupation. How long can a position be eroded before it is wholly ground to dust courtesy of an Israeli bulldozer?
Yet thanks to the sheer bluntness of current American positions and Israeli actions, Europe can no longer pretend with any degree of credibility that the policy it is pursuing is one of supporting an American-led “peace process.” Such self-evident fiction undercuts Palestinians striving for freedom; Israeli human rights defenders striving for justice; and Europe’s values-driven vision towards a future based on the rule of law, human rights, and democracy.
The guest at Monday’s breakfast openly mocks these values, yet somehow here he is — white tablecloth, croissants, and dignitaries listening politely. In July 2017, in a meeting in Budapest with the prime ministers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia, Netanyahu repeatedly called the EU “crazy” for being “the only association of countries in the world that conditions the relations with Israel… on political conditions.” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán chimed in alongside, from his intra-EU perspective. Budapest and Jerusalem seem to be sharing more and more values these days.
As Israel’s number one trade partner, Europe has all the leverage it needs to inform Israeli voters that they cannot continue to have it both ways – enjoy perks justified by presumed shared democratic values, all while trampling those very values. Raising the stakes, Netanyahu is now pushing to further leverage the silencing effect of false accusations conflating the rejection of the perpetual occupation with “incitement to anti-Semitism”, while at the same time cashing in on internal European divisions. He thus aims to sideline even the modest, ineffective conditionality that has existed to date. And he, or his successor, will market such an achievement to Israeli voters as a sign that Israelis can in fact continue having it both ways.
By continuing to express “serious concern” instead of acting, Europe is deciding to allow others to lead the way, and de facto accepting the abundantly clear consequences. Trump’s America is far away from all this, both geographically and morally: it is shielded by an ocean, and outspoken in alignment with Putin, Duterte, Orbán – and Netanyahu. While America is distant, all this is unfolding in Europe’s immediate neighborhood. Out of sheer self-interest, can Europe withstand the consequences of abandoning the values underpinning its post-WW2 project?
It is high time to stop waiting for Washington, Moscow, Budapest or Jerusalem. It is time to stand up for human rights, to demand nothing short of an end to the occupation, and to spell out how European leadership will effectively reject the unacceptable reality of the past 50 years. Backed by an almost global consensus reiterated in last year’s UN Security Council resolution 2334, in solidarity with Palestinians and likeminded Israelis, and together with international actors near and far – this is a task to be realized by a genuine coalition committed to non-violence, human rights, and justice. Europe, wake up.
Hagai El- Ad is Executive Director of B’Tselem.
Bethlehem/PNN/Monjed Jadou –
Christian Palestinians, along with Muslims held a protest in front of Nativity Church after Sunday prayers, To express there rejection of US President Donald Trump’s decision to consider Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The protesters assur that they would not meet his deputy Mike Pines because of his US administration pro-Israel positions.
Participants also raised Palestinian flags and slogans in English and Arabic denouncing American decision on jerusalem and warning against US Vice President’s visit to the city.
George Zina who spoke on behalf Palestinian factions, Follow – up Christian Committee and Christian institutions in Bethlehem, stressed the popular position that rejects USA Vice President visit to the city, which carries the meaning of war and aggression.
Zina added that Trump decision to consider Jerusalem as the capital of Israel harms Palestinian Christians and Muslims he said also that US president have no right to forget religious and historical significance of the city and its indigenous inhabitants.
He assur that Trump decision is against international laws and conventions and will not change the Christian and Islamic reality of the city.
He called on international community to challenge this American arrogance and pressure Trump to withdraw his decision on Jerusalem adding that the Christian in the city is not welcoming US Vice President Mike Pines visit.
Revolutionary Council member of Fatah movement, Mohammed Lahham, called for not receiving the US Vice President in Bethlehem.
He said: “We will receive US vice president with shoes and more.”
He added that Mike Pines unwelcome person and would be expelled from Bethlehem.
On Thursday, senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said that Pence was “unwelcome” in Palestine.
“In the name of Fatah I say that we will not welcome Trump’s deputy in the Palestinian Territories.
He asked to meet (Abbas) on the 19th of this month in Bethlehem, such a meeting will not take place,” Jibril Rajoub stated.
On response for the reports that Palestinians not meeting and welcoming Mike Pence a spokesperson for Vice President said that by refusing to meet the latter during his upcoming trip to the region, the PA was turning its back on a dialogue about the future of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
It is unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, the White House lamented in a statement released Sunday evening.
Pence is expected to visit the region later this month. He is set to travel to Israel and to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
It was not clear what Rajoub’s remarks meant for the West Bank portion of Pence’s trip, but Politico reported Thursday that Pence “still intends to meet with Abbas and Palestinian leaders and thinks any decision to pull out of the meeting would be counterproductive,” a White House official was quoted as saying.
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