Europe gets it: Israel ‘forcibly transfers’ Palestinians

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle East
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Bulldozers, guarded by Israeli police, being transported to demolish a house in Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, January 16th, 2007. 
(Photo: Keren Manor/Activestills).

An internal European Union (EU) report catches up to the reality of life for Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank: Israel is “closing the window” on a two-state solution and engages in “forced transfer of the native population.” That’s the diplomatic way of saying ethnic cleansing.

Donald Macintyre of the Independent has the story:

The Palestinian presence in the largest part of the occupied West Bank – has been, “continuously undermined” by Israel in ways that are “closing the window” on a two-state solution, according to an internal EU report seen by The Independent

Area C is one of three zones allocated by the 1993 Oslo agreement. Area A includes major Palestinian cities, and is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is under shared Israeli-Palestinian control.

Although Area C is the least populous, the report says “the window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing with the continued expansion of Israeli settlements and access restrictions for Palestinians in Area C [which] compromises crucial natural resources and land for the future demographic and economic growth of a viable Palestinian state”.

It says the EU needs “at a political” level to persuade Israel to redesignate Area C, but in the meantime it should “support Palestinian presence in, and development of the area”. The report says the destruction of homes, public buildings and workplaces result in “forced transfer of the native population” and that construction is effectively prohibited in 70 per cent of the land – and then in zones largely allocated to settlements of the Israeli military.

Amira Hass reports on the EU document here.

The “forcible transfer” of Palestinians has been occurring for quite a long time, but it’s good the EU is now saying what’s clear as day. In 2002, Amnesty International decried the “forcible transfer” of Palestinians in the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, and termed it a “war crime”:

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Palestinians living in the territories which have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967 are protected persons.

“The unlawful forcible transfer of protected persons constitutes a war crime under both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Under the Rome Statute such violations may also constitute crimes against humanity,” said Amnesty International.

Europe, though still complicit in the Israeli occupation, is becoming bolder and bolder in their criticism of Israel. This is surely a reflection of a number of things, such as the Arab uprisings, the BDS movement in Europe, and a simple facing up to the facts that the Palestinian state building project they are engaged in is failing due to Israel.

Hopefully, we can’t be too far off (five years? ten?) from the time when the EU will publish a report like this for the whole world to see–with the words boycott, divestment and sanctions included. But how many “forcible transfers” of Palestinians will happen before then?

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