The letter recently sent by Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) to Israel’s Prime Minister about the intended demolition of illegal Arab constructions is generally presented in the media as a bona fide petition by human rights activists against “the destruction of Palestinian homes.” Behind this façade of innocence and legality, however, lies the grimmer of a deceitful and illegal European attempt to undermine Israeli sovereignty.
A report recently published by the Israeli NGO Regavim shows that the European Union (EU), while admonishing Israel not to “establish facts on the ground” by building in disputed areas, encourages and even funds the Palestinian Authority (PA) to do just that. In September 2012, for instance, the EU announced the allocation of €100 million for exclusive Arab construction in Area C (the portion of the West Bank that was maintained under Israeli jurisdiction by the Oslo Accords). A report of the European Commission from October 2012 emphasizes “the importance of aid (including humanitarian aid), particularly in areas in which [the PA] does not have authority or influence.”
A report of the European Commission from September 2014 openly states that “the European Union and Palestinian Authority are actively promoting planning and construction in Area C, which, if successful, will pave the way for development and expansion of the Palestinian Authority’s control over Area C.” Lately, the EU’s effort has been concentrated in the area known as “E1” (itself located in Area C), i.e. the mostly bare land between Jerusalem and the West Bank (Jewish) city of Ma’ale Adumim.
While successive Israeli governments have intended to build in E1 so as to create territorial continuity between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumin, the plan has been shelved for years due to US pressure. Not content with that pressure, however, the EU is now funding the construction of pre-fabricated structures for the Arab population in order to “establish facts on the ground.” According to Regavim, the EU has been funding the illegal construction of hundreds of pre-fabricated homes in E1, as well as other parts of Area C. Pictures taken by Regavim clearly show the European flag and logo displayed on those buildings. According to international law and to the Oslo Accords, construction in Area C (whether temporary or permanent) requires permission from Israel – a rule openly flouted by the EU.
Altogether, the EU has funded the establishment of 17 illegal Arab villages (also known as “EU settlements”) in the West Bank. On February 1, 2015, British MEP James Carver wrote to the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs that “the structures all bear the name and flag of the EU and official EU agents have been photographed participating in overseeing the construction, so the active involvement of the EU can hardly be denied.” On February 5, 2015, the Daily Mail wrote that EU construction in Area C “has raised concerns that the EU is using valuable resources to take sides in a foreign territorial dispute.”
So Israel’s Prime Minister did not order “the demolition of Palestinian homes.” He ordered the removal of unapproved pre-fabricated structures recently built by the EU in contravention of international law.
As for the “400 rabbis” appealing to the Prime Minister, let us not be fooled, either. RHR is an NGO partially funded by the EU (according to NGO Monitor, RHR received €248,914 from the EU in 2012). The EU funds RHR to promote its agenda, and therefore RHR’s letter to the Prime Minister was hardly an innocent cri de cœur.
The EU is entitled, of course, to take sides (as it copiously does) in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But why be devious? The EU has no problem defying international law when doing so serves its political agenda, yet it is in the name of the law that it lectures Israel. The EU funds NGOs supposedly for the promotion of human rights, when in fact those NGOs act as PR stooges.
Abraham Lincoln famously quipped that “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” His optimism, no doubt, would have been tempered had he lived to encounter the European Commission.