By Rami Saleh

EU must end complicity in Israel's shameless flouting of international law

December 24, 2017

The U.S. administration's brazen recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was met with global shock and condemnation.

It is now imperative that the EU translate its words into action, making clear that it will not support U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement and will take concrete steps to end complicity in Israel's shameless flouting of international law. As the stakes of Israeli violations continue to rise, the world needs EU leadership now more than ever.

EU leadership

For seven decades, the international community has shared a consensus that Israeli claims over Jerusalem were illegal. The U.S. announcement, however, disrupted that international consensus.

As Palestinians, we fear the announcement will embolden Israel to intensify its unlawful annexation of our lands and wanton human rights violations against us. During the longest military occupation in modern history, Israel has sought to assert its control over Jerusalem through land-grabs, disenfranchisement of Palestinian rights, and demographic change.

Forcible population transfers, denial of Palestinian building permits, residency status revocations, home demolitions and property confiscations have become daily occurrences for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

In 2017 alone, 126 Palestinian structures were demolished, which resulted in the displacement 239 people, 115 of whom are children, while 17 Jerusalemites had their residency rights revoked - including two children.

Only months ago, the Knesset was set to vote on the Greater Jerusalem Bill. The bill would annex some of the West Bank's largest settlements into Jerusalem's borders, adding 150,000 Israeli settlers to Israel's voting population and exacerbating the already illegal transfer of the settler population to occupied territory.

Conversely, it would demote the status of certain Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to “sub-municipalities”.

In response to President Trump's announcement, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini has made clear that the EU will not follow the U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
 Israel's long-term plan


The objective of the Greater Jerusalem Bill is to serve Israel's long-term plan of altering the demographic character of Jerusalem to achieve a 70 percent majority of Israeli Jews to a 30 percent minority of Palestinians.
Its implementation would be an egregious violation of international law, yet it enjoys the public support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the far-right Likud Party.

The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel gives a green light to policies like the Greater Jerusalem Bill, serving only to embolden further demographic engineering, land grabs, and violation of Palestinian rights.
The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC) aims to challenge Israel's longstanding pattern of human rights violations against Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Palestinian civil society organizations like JLAC have long sought to challenge Israel's ongoing litany of abuses against the Palestinian people and flagrant disregard of international law. But we cannot do it alone.

Concrete action
In response to President Trump's announcement, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini has made clear that the EU will not follow the U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While this is an important step, the EU and its member states should now take concrete action to uphold its own obligations under international law and hold Israel to account.

Trump's Jerusalem announcement provides an opportunity for EU member states. It is in the interest of the EU itself to act on it.

As a start, the EU should send a clear message against the Greater Jerusalem Bill and the daily human rights violations in Jerusalem, voice rejection of the U.S. decision, and provide a unified support for UN resolutions reaffirming the international consensus on Jerusalem as a shared capital.

This will ensure that the U.S. is isolated in its decision.

This week, the UN Security Council voted 14-1 in favor of a resolution that would have affirmed that the U.S. announcement has no legal effect and demanded that the U.S. reverse its decision.

The U.S., standing alone, wielded its veto to block an otherwise unanimous decision - but its isolation was apparent. Now, with a similar resolution set to move to a vote in an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly, EU states have another opportunity to act with unity and consensus to reiterate their adherence to international law.

Furthermore, the EU has an obligation to ensure that its own policies do not constitute cooperation with Israel's illegal occupation.

The EU should set an example for the rest of the international community by ensuring that any Israeli-EU cooperation does not contribute to illegal settlements or human rights violations.

Any meetings of the EU-Israel Association Council should be postponed until Israel commits to upholding its legal obligations. Furthermore, the EU should avoid deepening political and economic cooperation with Israel until it demonstrates its commitment to ending its occupation.

These steps would send a clear message that the EU will not be complicit in Israel's ongoing crimes. The U.S. announcement is the latest development in a decades-long Israeli policy of creeping annexation.

But with the spotlight on Jerusalem, it is also an opportunity for unified, effective and decisive EU action. For peace to be possible, the EU must step up to take the lead.

(Source: middleeasteye.net)

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