19 August 2012 | Besieged Gaza, occupied Palestine
We call on the European Union to challenge and not embrace Israel’s incessant land expropriation and racist subjugation against the Palestinian people. The European Union’s own reports document and supposedly lament Israel’s apartheid policies, yet continues to pursue policies that legitimize them, such as the scandalous upgrade of trade relations currently being put forward.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that the regime you wish to do even more business with is worse than South African Apartheid, having been to the West Bank many times. But you turn your eyes and ears away from him. So does former ANC MP Ronnie Kassrils and countless other South Africans who have been to see the physical and psychological matrix of control Israel has mounted against us.
You are very well aware of what is happening to us. In terms of the brutal and illegal colonisation of the West Bank your own report from the Office of the European Union Representative (EUREP) in Jerusalem of July 2011 stated
“…large Jewish populations have settled into the occupied territory, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law. In 1972 there were 1,200 settlers which have grown to 310,000 settlers today in 124 settlements and 100 so called outposts in Area C. The Israeli government subsidizes and provides incentives including funding for housing, education and infrastructure such as special roads and water connection… The municipal area of settlements encompasses 9.3% of the West Bank Territory. However, due to the extensive network of settler roads and restrictions on Palestinians accessing their own land, the whole structure of the Israeli settlements dominate more than 40% of the West Bank.”
This is enforced Apartheid Segregation. Perhaps you shy away from using the words,”Ethnic Cleansing”, despite categorical evidence you yourselves present: “Prior to the Israeli occupation in 1967 the Palestinian population of the Jordan valley was estimated at between 200,000 and 320,000. As of 2009 the population is approximately 56,000…” This is ethnic cleansing in its most explicit form.
“Settlements of all kinds – formal or informal outposts – are illegal under international law.” You explain in the report.
They violate the prohibition against transfer of population of the occupying power to the occupied territory (art 49 IVGC), the prohibition against appropriation of private civilian property without military necessity (Regulation 46 Hague Regulations 1907) Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention names deportations and transfers under article 49 as grave breaches of International Humanitarian Law.
So why does the EU make detailed reports on Israel committing self-evident crimes against humanity – vast theft of our land, using bulldozers, tanks and army to violently push our people out? One wonders as to why such reports are written? We fail to understand how, in spite of your own findings, you decide to reward the aggressor!
The main legal basis through which you conduct EU relations between Israel and the European Union is an “association agreement” dating from 2000. In article 2, respect for human rights is described as an “essential element” of the accord, stating that, “relations shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles which must guide internal and international policy”.
More than 15,000 illegal Israeli Jewish settlers were added last year making the current number of “illegal settlers” 650,000. Yet still you propose a Palestinian state based on the Bantustans we have been herded into, without rights to water, to real movement, to airspace, sea space and certainly no rights to the 6 million refugees around the world who European countries have continually turned their backs on.
Notably, this trade upgrade was originally frozen when the Israeli Army, the fourth most armed in the world, committed atrocities over the new year of 2009 that you, the EU, couldn’t even ignore, the Gaza Bloodbath, the 3 week Israeli operation that killed over 1400 (over 340 children) injuring over 5300, the vast majority civilians. Palestinians of Gaza are still recovering from that, though most of them never will. For most of them lost a friend or relative and the trauma continues to manifest itself in all the generations, especially the youngest.
Since the EU feels ready to reward Israel with an upgrade, does it assume that justice was brought to the perpetrators of the bloodbath Palestinian civilians suffered in Gaza, and they now have their human rights fully respected by Israel?
Seeing as you do not read your own reports perhaps we can fill you in. Despite the wide scale crop contamination, a spike in child deformities and cancers from the incessant and illegal white phosphorous and chemical weapons showered on Palestinians of Gaza; despite our destroyed roads and sewage system, despite the United Nations accusing Israel of, ‘probable war crimes and crimes against humanity’, NO international criminal court hearings, NO sanctions, NO expectation of compensation from Israel for the 20,000 houses, hospitals, schools, shops, offices, damaged or destroyed, and NO effective easing of the now 5 year medieval blockade that has left much of the infrastructure in ruins due to limits on concrete, electrical and building materials. Israel right now is collectively punishing all of Gaza, contravening article 33 of the Geneva Conventions, supplementing nicely its record number of United Nation Resolution violations.
Europe’s aid to Palestinians will not free them from political oppression. Charity has never helped free a colonized population. The funding of weapons to Israel completely negates it. 11 of the top 20 weapons dealers to Israel are EU member states. Germany actually sold 2 dolphin submarines while Israel was bombarding Lebanon in July 2006, killing over a thousand people. In the first three months of 2008 alone, Britain rubberstamped timely military exports of almost £20 million to Israel giving it a suitable arsenal to blow us up with a few months later. Among the Gaza debris of the 2009 Cast Lead attacks, Amnesty International found, “made in France” labels on components used in Hellfire missiles. We hope the money was good for Europe’s biggest arms exporter to Israel. EU Scientific collaboration and investment in Israel is even more rewarding.
And it comes full circle when it was revealed that €11 million worth of damage was caused to EU financed infrastructure in Gaza during these bombings. Prior to that, from August 2001 to November 2008, Israeli attacks on the occupied territories inflicted damage worth more than €44 million on EU provided aid. As Mustafa Barghouti asked European Parliamentarians, “Are EU taxpayers really happy to reconstruct what US taxpayers have paid to destroy?”
We’re not surprised that an EU diplomat found it hard to hide this epic EU hypocrisy of the new trade deal, “I was struck by the fact that a whole range of relations was offered to Israel, at the request of Israel, as if nothing is happening on the ground… We should be using [Tuesday’s] dialogue to get what we want, which is Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law.”
Europe has historically accepted Israel trampling all over Palestinians, from the beginning in 1948. With precision brutality we have been uprooted, humiliated at checkpoints, imprisoned without charge, denied our heritage and religious sites, denied our freedom to move and see family members, denied water and our livelihoods, our arable land, our access to the sea, our dreams of visiting other countries. And Europe has merely watched. And Israel has carried on. Because it knows Europe makes noises but it does not stand up to Israel.
It is time to stand up!
Stand up for basic human rights. Is it too much to ask you to follow basic expectations of human rights in your dealings with Israel? Stand up against its policies of occupation, colonization and apartheid? When justice eventually comes and we can live as equals, not under an apartheid system that denies us our rights and our homes, people will look back on this period aghast that such collective punishment of an entire population, the majority children, was allowed to go on for so long, aided and abetted by the European Union. Stand up now, end this trade agreement with Israel and remember when and why Europeans finally put human rights first by sanctioning the White Afrikaaner regime. Legitimising Apartheid was wrong then, and it is wrong now.