Published on July 29th, 2013 |
by Jack Cowell
Image © שומבלע 2004
European Commission Measures Anger Israel
It emerged earlier this week that the European Commission has taken measures to block the flow of funds to entities linked with Israeli settlements in the occupied zone (defined here by post-1967 declared borders).
The Israelis responded angrily, obviously, denouncing the move as an assault on sovereignty, economic stupidity, and counterproductive to the peace process. The peace process found rare fuel recently in the form of the announcement of prisoner releases on the Israeli side and a reinvigorated effort on the part of John Kerry, leading the Israelis to further criticise the EC’s decision as audaciously ill-timed.
Indeed, the decision will be costly for the Israelis; “EU funds to Israel in the current 2007-13 budget period totaled some €800 million (about $1 billion)“. The moves apply to groups who are not only based in post-1967 Israeli held land, but who’s main operations occur there, meaning many companies shall be affected.
Despite the lamentations of the Israelis, and in many cases precisely because of it, the tracking of funds to ensure that it does not end up funding illegal settlement building was received as good news on the whole. Rightly so. Any international move to end the apartheid movement of Israel is to be welcomed, particularly those aimed at discouraging the inhabitation of illegally occupied land. The plight of the Palestinaians is a problem always on the agenda, rarely given due process, never shown serious commitment to resolution. The position of the Palestinians is one which anyone can and should feel grave sympathy for.
Peace talks are not hindered as the Israelis claim, as it is Israeli radicals (here meaning those demanding one state) not Palestinian radicals who are hindering the peace process; realigining the power balance can only help this process. Palestinian radical maximalists are not encouraged as I for one really don’t think these exist as a meaningful entity. Demanding your state back from occupation is not hindering the peace process. The only hindrance to the peace process forseeable from this action is from Israel.
However, it became quickly apparent that this move is not the turning of the tide against Israeli imperialism and oppression. No great pendulum swing has occurred; no great steps have been taken to end the rule of what is essentially the last remaining apartheid state. The rule applies only to EU commissioned programs, and therefore it has no jurisdiction over any unilateral or bilateral programs being funded by individual EU member states. While the amount to be blocked is sizeable, it could thus be much larger. If the states in the EC really did care about ecnomically punishing Israel for its actions, perhaps more heavily taxing the plethora of Israeli companies that operate throughout the EU would help. More progressive still would be a move to boycott companies within Israel itself; a tactic not unheard of as a means to dissuade the violent actions of states.
In defense of its actions the EC claimed that the measures taken are really more of a codification of rules already in place. As such, all press attention and the backlash from Israel may as well have been incurred for some meaningful purpose; that being, showing Israel that the EU, both as a collective and individually, is serious about stopping the apartheid-bent regime.
Maybe the drama of the last few days has been rallied on purpose as a tool for stimulating debate and allowing room for a discourse to be opened within Israel based on an acceptance that apartheid is not the way to go. More likely, perhaps the EC has found a clever way to push the Palestinians to the back of the agenda and Israel has been more than happy to play ball.