Obama has done nothing to alleviate ‘explosive’ occupation — eminent Europeans

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A group of 19 eminent Europeans has written to Catherine Ashton, the foreign minister of the European Union, to say that the peace process is dead, the occupation is so harsh it is “explosive,” and Obama did nothing on his recent trip to halt the destruction of Palestinian rights. So Europe must step in and exert pressure on Israel to return to the ’67 lines, because the two-state solution is the most “just and equitable” resolution of the conflict.

The letter — reported by Ali Gharib at Open Zion— is outraged:

Later generations will see it as unforgivable that we Europeans not only allowed the situation to develop to this point of acute tension, but took no action now to remedy the continuing destruction of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.

The great thing about the letter is its effect on the discourse: the cat is now completely out of the bag. The writers describe the Palestinian Authority in essence as stooges for the occupation and refer to the Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing, in so many words: “a permanent trend towards a complete dislocation of Palestinian territorial rights.”

These Europeans are evidently in the same camp as the Arab Peace Initiative. Though what will compel Israel to return to the ’67 lines? Boycotting goods from the settlements? Obama? Thanks to Peter Belmont.


We have watched with increasing disappointment over the past five years the failure of the parties to start any kind of productive discussion, and of the international community under American and/or European leadership to promote such discussion.  We have also noted with frustration and deep concern the deteriorating standards of humanitarian and human rights care of the population in the Occupied Territories.  The security and long-term stability of Israel, an essential objective in any process, cannot be assured in such conditions, any more than the legitimate rights and interests of the Palestinian people.

President Obama made some of these points during his March 2013 visit to the region, particularly in his address to the people of Israel, but he gave no indication of action to break the deep stagnation, nor any sign that he sought something other than the re-start of talks between West Bank and Israeli leaders under the Oslo Process, which lost its momentum long ago.

We are therefore appealing to you, and through you to the members of the Council of Ministers, to recognise that the Peace Process as conceived in the Oslo Agreements has nothing more to offer. Yet the present political stalemate, while the situation deteriorates  on the ground, is unsustainable, given the disturbed politics of the region and the bitterness generated by the harsh conditions of life under the Occupation.

The concern of the European Union at this deterioration, clearly expressed in a series of statements, not least the European Council Conclusions of 14 May 2012, has not been matched by any action likely to improve the situation. The aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis and the interests of the European Union, prominently referred to in those Conclusions and in other relevant EU documents, cannot be met by the current stagnation.

It is time to give a stark warning that the Occupation is actually being entrenched by the present Western policy. The Palestinian Authority cannot survive without leaning on Israeli security assistance and Western funding and, since the PA offers little hope of progress towards self-determination for the Palestinian people, it is fast losing respect and support from its domestic constituency. The steady increase in the extent and population of Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, and the entrenchment of Israeli control over the OT in defiance of international law, indicate a permanent trend towards a complete dislocation of Palestinian territorial rights.

We have reached the conclusion that there must be a new approach. Letting the situation lie unaddressed is highly dangerous when such an explosive issue sits in such a turbulent environment…

[Recommendations include]

an insistence that Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 lines are illegal, must cease being expanded and will not be recognised as one of the starting points in any new negotiations;- a clear and concerted effort to counter the erasing of the 1967 lines as the basis for a two-state outline.  This should include a clear distinction in EU dealings with Israel between what is legitimate – within the 1967 lines – and what violates international law in the Occupied Territories;

PS Journalism 101. Elliott Abrams riffs on the letter, saying it blames Israel for the occupation (!), but gives no credit to Gharib for reporting it. Noam Sheizaf does credit Gharib.

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