EU Guidelines on Israel: Part II
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed them in detail. They're largely old wine in new bottles. They're more bark than bite. They'll do virtually nothing to help long-suffering Palestinians.
Occupation harshness continues. Gazans are ruthlessly besieged. West Bank and East Jerusalem communities face multiple daily Israeli incursions.
Israel terrorizes them with impunity. Crimes of war and against humanity persist. They remain unaddressed. Apartheid worse than South Africa's not even mentioned.
EU weasel wording shows lack of resolve. Suggesting punishment may follow nonconformance stops short of mandating it.
Past EU/Israeli relations don't inspire confidence. Is this time different? Don't bet on it. Once things quiet down, expect business as usual to continue. At best, perhaps cosmetic changes will follow. They'll be too little, too late to matter.
Netanyahu wants new guidelines postponed. He rejects them. He asked EU leaders to hold off publishing. So did John Kerry. He's Israel's man at State. He's back for his sixth visit since February. He's selling snake oil. More on that below.
On Friday, guidelines were released as planned. Advance copies were available. A previous article included them. They're unimpressive. They're effective January 1, 2014.
Negotiations on their implementation will continue. Likely with no deadline until Israel's reassured they don't matter.
Israeli ambassadors delivered Netanyahu's message. Israel won't accept new conditions. They make little difference. They stop short of biting. They exclude EU-financed military cooperation.
Profitable defense industry ties exist. They're longstanding. They won't change. So do other business relationships. They'll continue unobstructed. Doing so puts a lie to alleged guideline improvements.
Israel's an OECD member state. Intergovernmental relations matter more than Palestine.
Guideline words don't reflect policy. Israel gets a pass routinely. It gets away with murder and much more. Its not punished for serious international law violations. Don't expect EU leaders to change things.
Real change requires binding mandates. It requires enforcing them with teeth. It means making them all embracing. Measures like the following are essential:
ending Israel's illegal occupation; mandating it with teeth; boycotting and isolating Israel until it happens; accepting no compromise;
recognizing Palestinian self-determination within pre-1967 borders; letting settlers remain as citizens of Palestine; let them register as foreign nationals if they refuse; letting Palestinians live anywhere like Jews;
demanding Israel treat all its citizens equally; 20% are Palestinians; they're treated like fifth column threats;
accepting East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital;
mandating the right of return;
requiring Israel accept fixed borders;
giving Palestinians internationally recognized air, water, border and resource rights;
requiring Israel pay just compensation for decades of harm caused; doing so regardless of cost;
tearing down its apartheid wall; starting demolition immediately;
ending all settlement construction straightaway;
releasing thousands of wrongfully held Palestinian political prisoners; preventing further arrests;
charging culpable Israeli officials with crimes of war and against humanity; putting them in the dock and prosecuting them; convicting and imprisoning those found guilty; and
making Palestine sovereign and free again.
So-called new guidelines fall woefully short. They're embarrassing. At best they represent baby steps. After decades of denial, Palestinians deserve multiple giant ones. They deserve that and much more.
Ali Abunimah's more hopeful. On July 18, he headlined "Israeli banks may lose access to large loans under new EU rule on occupied lands."
Hundreds of millions of euros are at stake. Palestinian campaigners think so. Their hopes likely exceed reality.
According to the Boycott National Committee (BNC):
"The new guidelines exclude any Israeli entity with activity in occupied Palestinian territory from participating in EU financial instruments such as loans."
"Among those excluded from receiving loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) will be major Israeli banks including Bank Hapoalim, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank and Bank Leumi because they all operate illegally in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), including by having branches in illegal Israeli settlements."
"Bank Hapoalim received a 75m (euro) credit line from the EIB in 2006 and is likely to have put some of that credit towards its wide-ranging settlement financing operations."
"Recent EIB loans such as the 120m (eurose) lent to national Israeli water company Mekorot in 2011 or the 40m (euros) lent to electric car company Better Place in 2012 would not have been granted under the new rules as both companies have sizeable illegal settlement activities."
"The EIB has provided finance amounting to almost 1 billion (euros) to Israeli entities since 1981."
EIB calls itself "the European Union's bank." Twenty-eight member states control it. Dominant ones Germany, Britain, France, and Italy have final say.
Germany's still beholden to Israel for Nazi-era crimes. Don't expect slap downs for the foreseeable future. Some day perhaps. Not now. Not anytime soon.
According to BNC spokesman Zaid Shuaibi:
"Virtually all Israeli ministries and national authorities, major Israeli banks, and other private businesses participate in the discrimination and oppression of our people and the colonization of our country."
"Many of them play a key role in maintaining and expanding illegal Israeli settlements and infrastructure of the occupation regime."
"These new guidelines should all but end Israeli eligibility for EIB loans.
Hope springs eternal. It hasn't bloomed since pre-1948. It shows faint signs at best now.
Israel's so-called "earthquake" doesn't rise to the level of a minor shake, rattle and roll. At most it's a barely noticeable quiver.
Without firm enforceable teeth, new guidelines are laughable on their face. They're offensive. They reflects more promises made to be broken. Don't bet they won't be.
Palestinians have been waiting decades for real change. They're still waiting. Their legitimate government's wrongfully called a terrorist organization. Why?
Because it wants Palestinians able to live free on their own land in their own country. Coup d'etat Palestinian governance collaborates with Israeli lawlessness. It's Israel's enforcer. It spurns its own people.
It's high time legitimate governance ran Palestine. It time Palestinians had leaders representing them. It's time occupation ended.
Don't expect EU leaders to help. They never have. Expect nothing different this time. Washington declined to rebuke new EU guidelines.
It's significant. It shows they don't matter. Otherwise Obama officials would complain. According to a State Department spokesman, America's "position on settlements is clear."
Rhetorically Washington opposes them. At the same time, US administrations do nothing to stop them. Failure to act shows support. It's always been that way. Expect nothing different now.
Washington and Israel are longstanding imperial partners. The so-called special relationship continues. Palestinians are spurned. They're denied. They're exploited. They're systematically thrown under the bus.
Their rights don't matter. They never have. They don't now. They're on their own. Their liberating struggle gets no world community support.
Israeli rights alone matter. Palestinians are virtual non-persons. Unless things radically change, nothing else will. No credible signs suggest it. It bears repeating, unless or until they do, expect business as usual to continue.
A Final Comment
On July 19, John Kerry returned to the Middle East. It was his sixth visit since February. He's selling peace process pretense. He one-sidedly represents Israel.
He pretends otherwise. On Friday, he met Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. He did so in Amman. He met Mahmoud Abbas later in Ramallah. No breakthroughs were reported.
Kerry's proposal falls short. Palestinians want talks based on pre-1967 borders. Netanyahu categorically refuses. Publicly Kerry's hopeful. Brave face diplomacy doesn't get results.
Israel calls stolen Palestinian land its territory. International law mandates otherwise. Israel remains hardline. Whether or not restarting talks "are within reach" remains to be seen.
It doesn't matter. Peace process hypocrisy is longstanding Israeli policy. Expect nothing different this time. Washington's fully on board. Israel's interests alone matter.
According to Haaretz editors, Netanyahu's heading Israel "into the abyss." He won't halt settlement construction. They're not Israeli territory. He won't admit it.
His attitude is "worrisome. (T)ired cliches" substitute for responsible leadership. His worldview is "distorted." He prioritizes occupation harshness.
He's leading "Israel to the brink. Most of the country's citizens are not prepared to let the settler minority determine their fate."
"The sooner he realizes this, the less unneeded suffering there will be."
Expect no enlightened breakthroughs soon. Peace remains elusive. So does Palestinian liberation. Perhaps next time. Not now.
Note: At a Friday press conference, Kerry said preliminary Israeli/Palestinian talks will begin next week in Washington.
He claimed a basis for doing so. Details are being formalized. Whatever takes places, expect an exercise in futility like always. Either that or Abbas agreed to unconditional surrender. It wouldn't be the first time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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