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EU’s New Israel Settlement Policy: A Step in the Right Direction

(Photo: Stuart Chalmers)

(Photo: Stuart Chalmers)

The European Union announced today that future agreements with Israel must include explicit language acknowledging that illegal Zionist settler colonies are not part of the Jewish state’s territory.

The new rules, which go into effect this Friday, prohibit funding, cooperation, awarding of scholarships, research funds or prizes to anyone residing in any Jewish settlements in the illegally occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The directive covers nearly all aspects of cooperation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia, but not trade.

The measure, while largely symbolic because it only applies to interactions between Israel and the EU itself, not its 28 member states, nevertheless drew condemnation from Israeli leaders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supports settler colonies, vowed that his country “will not accept any external edicts” regarding its borders.

Uri Ariel, the far-right, pro-settlement housing minister, played the Holocaust card, calling the EU move “racist” and “reminiscent of boycotts of the Jews in Europe” in the bad old days.

Another Israeli official, who wished to remain anonymous, called the new EU ruling an “earthquake.”

People of conscience should call it an important step in the right direction.

The fact is, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is illegal under international law, as are settler colonies built and expanded in the occupied territories. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territory it occupies.” According to the United Nations, Israel has established some 150 settlements in the occupied territories since conquering them in 1967. An additional 100 or so settler outposts have been built without official authorization. In 1972, there were around 10,000 Israelis living in settler colonies. By 2008, there were more than half a million, with thousands of additional Jews flooding into the occupied territories every year.

Zionist settler colonies are the spear tip of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. That’s not heated hyperbole– UN human rights official Richard Falk, an American, declared in 2011 that settlement expansion “can only be described in its cumulative impact as a form of ethnic cleansing.” Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire and Holocaust survivor Suzanne Weiss, among others, have also blasted Israeli ethnic cleansing. The modern Jewish state was literally founded largely by acts of terrorism and an ethnic cleansing campaign in which more than 700,000 Arabs were expelled, often forcibly and by massacre, from more than 400 towns and villages throughout Palestine. They would never return to their homes, despite being guaranteed the right to do so under UN Resolution 194.

Speaking of the UN, it has passed many resolutions condemning Israel’s illegal settler colonies. But the United States, Israel’s closest ally and main benefactor, uses its Security Council veto power to overrule the world body’s will.

In addition to the slow-motion ethnic cleansing campaign of settlement construction and expansion, a state of apartheid exists in the occupied territories. Israeli-only roads connect Jewish-only settlements with Israel proper, with Palestinians kept out by a ‘security’ wall that not only separates them from Jews but also often cuts them off from their families and livelihoods, with devastating results. Former US President Jimmy Carter and South African archbishop and former anti-apartheid warrior Desmond Tutu are among those who have publicly condemned Israeli apartheid.

Of course, Zionists and their supporters believe that “God,” whose existence cannot be proven, promised the Jews, “His Chosen People,” all of Palestine, which was the site of Jewish kingdoms in ancient times. But from biblical times until the early 20th century, Jews never numbered more than 10 percent of the population of what would later become the modern Jewish state of Israel.

By issuing its latest directive, the EU has shown more courage in standing up to Israeli crimes against humanity than the Obama administration, which has given up on its earlier demands that Israel halt new settlement construction. Netanyahu has publicly embarrassed the United States by responding to Washington’s settlement freeze demands by announcing new settlement construction.

“Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here,” Netanyahu defiantly declared. “This place will be an inseparable part of the state of Israel for eternity,” he said of the stolen and ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land.

Despite Israel’s defiance, Washington continues to fund the Israel Defense Forces (and its many atrocities) to the tune of $3 billion per year. Your tax dollars are funding the continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the only nation on earth to simultaneously practice ethnic cleansing, occupation, colonization and apartheid. Your tax dollars are paying for the bombs, bombers, bullets, bulldozers, guns, missiles, jets, helicopters, tanks, artillery and chemical weapons used to kill, maim, terrorize, repress and humiliate countless Palestinians.

European nations are also complicit in Zionist crimes. But today’s announcement of the new EU policy sends a clear message that Europe rejects Israel’s unconscionable settler colonization of Palestinian territory. Would that we could say the same about the United States.

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