This article was originally published in Electronic Intifada on Tuesday the 15th of October.
Israel’s war crimes sometimes have to be overlooked, according to a senior European Union representative.
During 2013, Israel reacted angrily when Brussels officials issued a policy paper stating that the EU would not award funding to firms and institutions based in Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank. Rather than standing up to Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, the EU’s top figures tried to downplay the significance of the “guidelines” contained in that paper.
One letter — not published before now — shows that some of this downplaying was tantamount to grovelling.
Signed by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU’s commissioner for scientific research, in November last year, that letter states that both the Union and Israel “are conscious of the need to find flexible ways of implementing the guidelines.” Such flexibility was required, she argued, to “ensure full respect of the Union’s policy in relation to the territories occupied by Israel, while not deterring Israel’s association to EU programs.”
Don’t be fooled
Her attempt to sound balanced and nuanced should not fool anybody.
The only possible interpretation of her letter (published below) is that although the EU considers Israel’s colonization of the West Bank to be illegal, it is willing to compromise on that position for reasons of political expediency.
The construction of Israeli settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. They involve the tightening of Israeli control on land it acquired by force.
In other words, they are war crimes.