Friday, June 26, 2020

'EU policies on Israel influenced by political pressure from radical elements' - Ariel Kahana

by Ariel Kahana

Foreign Ministry official says EU is not as invested in other territorial disputes worldwide as it is in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of Brussels' policies are subject to pressure from the BDS movement, he says.

"The European Union is discriminating against Israel," a senior Israeli diplomat stated in a position paper presented Thursday to the Mitvim Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.

The former head of the European Division in the Foreign Ministry and Israeli Ambassador to Norway Raphael Schutz wrote that "in other territorial disputes, such as the Spanish Sahara and northern Cyprus, European countries and their envoys to Brussels do not invest the same energy, time, and thought as they do to promoting the boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements."

The EU, he continued, only recently approved the open sky agreement with Israel, which ostensibly contradicts its principles concerning the Jewish state, and it did so only because the accord is in line with Brussels' current interests.

"The EU is inconsistent. When it is convenient for them, European officials have refrained from taking an ideologically approach to Israel in drafting the open sky agreement, understanding that it has considerable economic benefits for them," Schutz wrote.

The veteran diplomat added that "it is impossible to get a definitive statement from Brussels about Israel's right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it has not come out in rejection of the [Palestinian demand for] the 'right of return.'"

This lack of clarity while the EU has fully adopted the Palestinians' positions with respect to the regional conflict, especially in regards to the territorial aspects.

"EU policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is clear and decisive with regard to territorial aspects, about which the EU aligns with the Palestinian position. However, when it comes to the Israeli positions – even those it does not oppose in principle – the EU is less clear or decisive," Schutz continued.

Schutz's paper was written in response to a paper by Mitvim, in which the think tank explains why the so-called "differentiation policy" the EU practices with respect to Judea and Samaria, vis-à-vis Israeli areas within the Green Line, does not constitute a boycott against Israel.

But while Mitvim argued that the EU's "policy of differentiating between sovereign Israel and the [Palestinian] territories is fundamentally different from the BDS movement," Schutz argues that it is a direct result of pressure from the BDS movement.

In addition, he noted that the EU's punitive measures against Israeli exports from Judea and Samaria hurt the Israeli economy as a whole and are a dangerous gateway to official boycotts, which also harm the Palestinians employed by Israeli business in Judea and Samaria.

"We cannot ignore the 'elephant in the room' – this policy is substantially influenced by ongoing political pressure from radical elements, including the BDS movement," Schutz said.

Ariel Kahana


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