In late June this 12 months, the European Union introduced that it might resume funding for 2 Palestinian NGOs — Al-Haq and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. It had suspended monetary assist in Could 2021 after Israeli authorities equipped the European Fee with a file that claimed that six Palestinian NGOs, together with Al-Haq, have been funnelling EU funds to the Fashionable Entrance for the Liberation of Palestine, which Israel describes as a “terrorist organisation”.
A number of months later the Israeli defence ministry prolonged that “terrorist” designation to those NGOs, too. EU authorities have discovered “no suspicions of irregularities and/or fraud”. Nonetheless, on August 18, Israeli forces raided the places of work of seven Palestinian nonprofits within the occupied West Financial institution.
Be it in response to the unfounded allegations within the 2021 file, the raids or the all-too-frequent military onslaughts on Gaza, the EU has finished little to carry Israel accountable apart from ritual however ineffectual expressions of concern. In actual fact, the EU just lately reiterated its dedication to growing nearer diplomatic ties and agreed to renew conferences of the EU-Israel Affiliation Council.
This isn’t a diplomatic lapse or misstep. It’s vital to know that this impunity is assured within the phrases and circumstances of EU-Israel relations, the place political and financial relations are under no circumstances contingent on the character of the latter’s conduct in direction of Palestinians. Consequently, Israel can willfully violate Palestinian rights, with out concern of great retribution from the EU, its greatest commerce accomplice.
All carrot, no stick
The EU-Israel Association Agreement (pdf) was ratified by EU member states’ parliaments, the European Parliament and the Knesset and entered into pressure in 2000, after a long time of proof of Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. The settlement particularly mentions “human rights and democracy” as the premise of the affiliation settlement. Political dialogue between Israel and the EU is supposed to develop “mutual understanding and solidarity” and “convergence of positions on worldwide points”.
But there may be nothing within the doc that recognises the wrestle for Palestinian independence from Israel. Imprecise references to peace, democracy and human rights don’t do a lot when the “worldwide concern” they relate to – the broader politics of Israeli settler colonial rule over Palestinian lands – is just not specified.
On this sense, the affiliation is all “carrot” and no “stick” and it’s no shock that Israel enthusiastically signed the Affiliation Settlement in 1995.
Below the European Neighbourhood Coverage, the EU and Israel additionally signed the 2005 Action Plan (pdf) which particularly addresses “the Israeli/Palestinian battle” and the dedication of the EU, as a member of the Quartet — a bunch additionally together with the USA, United Nations and Russia — to the two-state resolution. But the burden of accountability for selling “peace and stability within the Center East” doesn’t appear to fall on Israel.
The Motion Plan does observe that Israel should adhere to worldwide legislation, minimise the influence of Israel’s “safety and counterterrorism measures” on civilians, make sure the secure motion of “civilians and items” and safeguard “property, establishments and infrastructure”. There are additionally generic references to “bettering financial and social circumstances” of all populations. Nonetheless, the general function is just not pushed by Palestinian rights, sovereignty or liberation.
Who’s answerable for peace? Not Israel
Slightly, the insinuation is that Palestinians are the issue and a hindrance to securing peace and stability. Below the Motion Plan, Israel and the EU are answerable for supporting the Palestinian Authority (PA) in its efforts to “dismantle all terrorist capabilities and infrastructure” and put an finish to “terrorist actions and violence”.
Israel and the EU are additionally answerable for supporting and facilitating good governance, transparency, accountability, democratic reform and consolidation of safety providers within the PA. In its conception of the Middle East Peace Process, the EU does underline its dedication to the two-state resolution. Nonetheless, whereas promising to make safety preparations aimed toward making certain Palestinian sovereignty, the EU additionally refers to its want that such a state is “based mostly on the rule of legislation and respect of human rights”.
The subtext right here is that the dearth of sovereignty is one way or the other a consequence of Palestinian failure to assuage Israel’s safety considerations.
The EU is just not an trustworthy stakeholder
Following international outrage concerning the current Israeli raids on the places of work of Palestinian NGOs, Brussels determined to undertake a more durable tone. “These actions aren’t acceptable,” Josep Borrell, the EU Excessive Consultant for International Affairs and Safety Coverage mentioned.
But even now, the EU’s concern seems restricted to phrases. In actuality, the authorized and political foundation for EU-Israel relations doesn’t enable for any recognition of Israel’s position as a colonial occupier. The bloc of 27 nations has proven no want to alter that.
The outcome: the EU is just not an trustworthy or effectual stakeholder within the wrestle for Palestinian sovereignty and independence. Quite the opposite, its method permits Israel to function with full impunity — human rights be damned.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.