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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Original French text (see rubrique "International" for the other parts)

by By Pierre Barbancey, Translated by Henry Crapo

Jerusalem: The European Union conceals a policy of Annexation

Near East: The European diplomats denounce, in a report, the Israeli policy of annexation of Jerusalem. The European Union refuses to publish it. L’Humanité reveals its contents.

Translated Monday 2 January 2006, by Henry Crapo

The main article denounces the refusal of the European Union to receive and publish a report by European diplomats on post in Jerusalem and Ramallah, a report finding a determined policy of the Israeli government aimed at annexation of Jerusalem West. Lower on this page, find an interview with European parliamentarian Francis Wurtz, an editorial by Dominique Bari, and excerpts from the report and recommendations.

For several months now, the diplomats of the European Union posted to Jerusalem and Ramallah have been working to edit a report accounting for the Israeli policy in the region of greater Jerusalem. A long report without ambiguity, together with a resumé and recommendations drafted by the diplomats themselves, which we publish on page 4 (see below), but which has not been made public. The Israeli strategy of "fait accompli" is there studied and revealed in broad daylight. For the first time, a text originating from the diplomatic corps places side by side the expansion of colonies in the Cisjordan, the construction of the wall "of separation" or "of security", and the destruction of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem-East, only to arrive at the conclusion that "it is a matter of a deliberate Israeli policy — the end being the annexation of Jerusalem-East", that this "limits the perspectives for any agreement acceptable to the Palestinians on the final status of Jerusalem", and that "the Israeli initiatives radicalize a Palestinian population of Jerusalem that has been, until now, relatively peaceful". There is thus clearly a consistency in the acts of the Israeli, having nothing to do with questions of security, in fact nothing other than the continuation of the colonization of Palestinian territories.

The Palestinians scorned

The departure from the Gaza Strip, in the month of August, is equally to be placed in this context. Ariel Sharon was well aware that the dream of Eretz Israel was no longer current, at least not in its biblical version. Returning the Gaza Strip, which is of no economic interest to Israel, to the Palestinians permitted the prime minister to appear as a man of peace, in the eyes of the international community, and permitted one to forget that the removal was carried out unilaterally, with no consultation with the Palestinians. As a result, hidden behind the fake laurel leaves, Sharon continued his policy of annexation, in violation of international law, of the recommendations of the international Court of Justice, of the resolutions of the United Nations, and even of its own promises made in the context of the "road map" elaborated under the leadership of the "quartet" (United States, European Union, Russia, and the United Nations). The diplomats note, in connection with the wall, that "its trace isolated Jerusalem-East and its 230,000 Palestinian residents from the Cisjordan (it does more to separate Palestinians from themselves than to separate Palestinians from Israeli)", and that the wall "is not motivated solely by questions of security". Meanwhile, as the authors emphasize, "the viability of a Palestinian state depends in large measure on the preservation of links between Jerusalem-East, Ramallah, and Bethlehem, in the Cisjordan."

Simultaneously, "colonization continues at a rapid pace in the interior of Jerusalem-East, where there are already 190,000 Israeli colonizers." In brief, Sharon can surely speak of the creation of a Palestinian state, but when one looks at the map of the colonies and the construction of the wall, you can understand what it means to carry out an administrative but not geographic reunification of scattered territories with no economic viability.

A veritable political bomb

The report of diplomats posted to Jerusalem and Ramallah is a veritable political bomb, and places the European Union in the face of its responsibilities. But once again, instead of responsibility, it is cowardice that wins the day. On December 12, the European Union renounced to publish a report critical of the Israeli presence in Jerusalem-East. For the secretary of the Foreign Office, Jack Straw, whose government presides over the European Union until the end of the week, "the political climate has changed in Israel, and there is a legislative election in coming months. So we didn’t think it appropriate to accept or to publish this document, but rather to continue to make our suggestions through normal channels." Despite this, one month ago the ministers of foreign affairs of the 25 European nations believed that there was nothing to hide, and had announce the publication of the document. Javier Solana, the top representative of European foreign policy, former general secretary of NATO, played a non-negligible role in this decision. He explained to the ministers, without laughing, that European influence on Israel would be largely compromised if the report were to be published [sic!]. Furthermore, the spokesman for the Israeli foreign office, Mark Regev, qualified this decision as "just". "There is no doubt that there is a new atmosphere in relations between the European Union and Israel. I am sure that the disengagement [from the Gaza Strip] has played a big role in this, and I think that the Europeans have decided to play a bigger role in the region" This is what Solana surely means when he speaks of European influence.

Force the European Union to take a position;
interview with Francis Wurtz

For the French communist Francis Wurtz, president of the group GUE-GVN in the European Parliament, the inertia in Brussels is unacceptable. Interview.

Huma: How do you react to the official decision not to publish the document provided to the ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union?

Francis Wurtz: It is scandalous. Jack Straw, head of British diplomacy, announced this decision by explaining that several states considered that the proximity of elections in the region made it improper to publish this text. This is an illustration of the fact that, for them, the center of all interest in Near-Eastern politics is to be found in Israel, not in Palestine. There is the occupying power, but not the occupied country. But there are elections in both countries, so the argument is totally fallacious. Concerning this report, it is not the first time that the diplomats in place have exhibited great lucidity. Certain of them have shown indignation concerning the inertia in Brussels. In the Near-East, avoiding politics is the worst policy. Some weeks ago, the Palestinian municipal elections gave the victory to Hamas. The only comment by Javier Solana, head of external policy for the European Union, was to say that if the elections the end of January confirm this tendency, the European Union should reconsider its policy of aid to Palestine. That tops it all. This attitude marks a tendency more and more accentuated for the European Union to abandon its responsibilities, in particular those pertaining to the "road map" established in the "quartet" with the United Nations, Russia, and the United States.

Huma: What does the report itself suggest to you?

Francis Wurtz: It is very healthy to see the European representative on site utter a cry of alarm concerning the utterly illegal character of the annexation of Jerusalem (starting in 1967, and increasingly since), and to rise in opposition to the acceptance of this "fait accompli", a flagrant, historical, repeated, and enduring violation of international law. We must take up and pursue their legitimate and courageous act, and break the wall of silence in the Council of Europe.

Huma: What can the European parliamentarians do?

Francis Wurtz: The European parliament, in matters of foreign policy, does not have, strictly speaking, any powers or prerogatives. We have only a power of influence. Remember, three or four years ago, the majority vote in parliament in favor of the suspension of the agreement for an association Europe-Israel, which was not followed up by the Council. We were blocked, but at the same time it had considerable political repercussions. Still today, it remains a resolution of reference. We have to use the weight represented by public opinion with respect to the governments that are preventing us from taking up this affair. As for our parliamentary group GUE-GVN, when we learned that the Council had decided to put a hold on the document, we met with the parliamentarians most involved in the question, from political groups on all sides. The group GUE-GVN will take the initiative, once the session reconvenes after the holidays, of a broadly-based call by parliamentarians, public, of course, demanding that the Council publish this report and take a position on the question. This is essential, especially in the present situation, where despair is gaining among the Palestinians, and where the safety net in the form of an outside force, which the European Union should be, in the face of the United States and Israel, is dissipating more and more. We have to adopt a position inverse to that of the European Union because in this matter, contrary to what happens in other matters, unanimity is required of any initiative — the only problem being that no unanimity exists. We fall back on this old and unacceptable impunity which the Israeli government enjoys. It is the only government that exempts itself from international law, without anyone objecting. On the other hand, whenever they make the slightest step in a positive direction, everyone magnifies the gesture. In fact, we render ordinary these fundamental and permanent violations of international law.

Interview by Pierre Barbancey

A guilty silence; editorial by Dominique Bari

"A combination of several Israeli measures diminishes the probability of reaching a final agreement on Jerusalem, and clearly shows that Israel intends to make the annexation of Jerusalem a ’fait accompli’ ... These activities are in violations of their obligations under the ’road map’ and international law." These few sharp-edged lines sum up the tenor of the report of the European Union studying the policies of the State of Israel with respect to the Palestinians. The worst-case strategy managed with dexterity by the governments obedient to the wishes of Tel-Aviv, since the occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem-East, is analyzed with lucidity. All partisans of a just and durable peace rejoice in a such a document to reset the clocks and open up true negotiations. We are far from the desired position. Brussels refuses to publish the text and to assume its responsibilities in a conflict that saddens the region now for more than a half century. Nothing can justify such a diplomatic void, a failure to assist a people in danger and yearning for peace, as much on the Palestinian as Israeli side. These recent years the European Union has scarcely shined in its Near-Eastern policies. It has preferred to leave the Palestinians alone to face the Israeli-United States alliance. It has so maintained its silence that one may even forget that it made up part of the "quartet", alongside the United States, Russia, and the United Nations, and is, in this way, a guarantor of the "road map" adopted in 2003, which projects for 2005 the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza strip, on the borders of Israel. So what do we observe? The continuation of the construction of the wall of shame, declared illegal in 2004 by the International Court of Justice, and a galloping colonization of the occupied territories. The ministry of Housing and Construction has just launched an appeal for the construction of 228 homes on the West Bank. Proof that the withdrawal from Gaza was not the first step in a general plan of evacuation of the occupied territories. And the program of Ariel Sharon and his new party, the Kadima, made public Monday, leaves no room for hope that there will be any change in policy in case of an election victory.

The European Union, if it is mainly present in financial questions, even as the principal partner of the Palestinian Authority, does not grant itself the means for any political intervention. It rejoiced, without any second thoughts, in the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza strip. The only sign of life: the warning launched by Javier Solana, worried by a possible victory of Hamas in the legislative elections of 25 January, which would call into question the European financial aid to Palestine. But how about asking why there would be such a victory, and on what sense of despair it is founded?

Passing trough Paris last October, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, said he hoped that France "would continue to play an efficient and positive role in the European Union, in favor of the Palestinian cause and the process of peace, with a view to reaching a true resolution of the conflict." What will be Paris’ attitude concerning this report? By informing European public opinion, Brussels could play an historic card in the Near-East. It can aid in establishing a true dialog between the Israeli and the Palestinians.

Extracts of the censured report; excerpts from the report

The question of Jerusalem-East is of central importance for the Palestinians, on political, economic, social, and religious grounds. A combination of several Israeli measures diminishes the probability of reaching a final agreement on Jerusalem, and clearly shows that Israel intends to make the annexation of Jerusalem a ’fait accompli’: the present completion of the barrier around Jerusalem-East, where the path is far from the Green Line [editor’s note: the frontier in 1967], the construction and expansion of illegal colonies, by both private groups and by the Israeli government, in and around Jerusalem-East, the demolition of palestinian houses constructed without permits (obtaining of which would be a miracle), reinforced restrictions aimed at separating Palestinians living in Jerusalem-East from those residing on the West Bank, including the reduction in numbers of work permits and discrimination in taxation, in expenses, and in construction permits on the part of the municipality of Jerusalem.

The plan of extension of Ma’ateh Adumim in the zone called "El", to the east of Jerusalem, threatens to completely encircle the city with Jewish colonies, and will have as consequence the division of the West Bank into two separate geographic zones.

In 2004 the number of palestinian buildings demolished in Jerusalem-East has tripled. We foresee an equal number of demolitions in 2005.

When the barrier will be completed, Israel will control access to enter or leave Jerusalem-East, isolating the satellite towns of Bethlehem and Ramallah, and beyond, the rest of the West Bank. This will have serious economic, social and humanitarian consequences for the Palestinians. By strictly enforcing measures concerning residence and identity cards, Israel will be in a position to complete the isolation of Jerusalem-East, the political, social and commercial center of the Palestinian life.

These Israeli activities in Jerusalem are in violation of their obligations under the ’road map’ and international law.

The Palestinians are all, without exception, profoundly worried about Jerusalem-East. They fear that Israel will be able to get away with this annexation under cover of "withdrawal". The Israeli measures also risk to radicalize the Palestinian population of Jerusalem-East, heretofore relatively calm.

The diplomats’ recommendations

On a political level

The clear declarations of the European Union and of the "quartet" as to the fact that Jerusalem remains the subject of negotiations between two parties, and that Israel should refrain from all measures destined to preempt those negotiations. We can envisage a declaration centered on the question of Jerusalem. We can also exert pressure for a declaration along the lines of the "quartet".

The first phase of the "road map" calls for the reopening of Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem-East, and in particular, of the Chamber of Commerce. The reopening of these institutions will be for the Palestinians a sign that the international community takes their worries seriously, and is willing to act. We can include a call for the reopening in the declarations previously mentioned, and study with the two parties how and when these reopenings can take place.

Make the urgent demand to the Israeli government to put an end to the discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in Jerusalem-East, particularly with respect to work permits, construction permits, demolition of homes, taxation and expenditures.

The European Union can envisage and evaluate the implications of excluding Jerusalem-East from the field of application of certain cooperative agreements between the European Union and Israel.

On the operational level

Organize political meetings between the Palestinian Authority and Jerusalem-East, including meetings at a ministerial level. Take initiatives (such as letters of declaration, contacts, meetings, etc) centered on questions of access, construction permits, the consequences of the wall, etc.

In preparation for the elections fixed for 25 January 2006, encourage the two parties to agree on the modalities of their coordination, in order to assure that the elections can take place in a satisfactory way in Jerusalem-East, by virtue of the obligations of each party in the framework of temporary agreements and the "road map" (the obligation for the Palestinian Authority to organize the elections and the obligation for Israel to facilitate them.) taking into account the recommendations formulated in the Rocard report (report of the European Union in the aftermath of the presidential election). Offer technical assistance of a third party, and the capacity of follow-up, if this be deemed necessary and appropriate.

The overall plan for Jerusalem, which is currently up for approval, should be submitted to technical analysis, followed by a decision as to the manner in which the plan should be evaluated in terms of judicial implications, public information, etc. Presently, the plan exists only in Hebrew (it should be translated into English and Arabic).

All missions of the European Commission should increase their projects undertaken in Jerusalem-East, with an equilibrium between furnishing of services, humanitarian projects, development and political projects (taking into account the multi-sectorial study). The support of the civil society is important. An inventory of activity under way in missions of the European Union would be an important first step.

As concerns the demolition of houses for lack of building permit in Jerusalem-East, the European Union has different options: — support legal projects of aid to Palestinians threatened with demolition of homes and of those who have been victims
— promote initiatives to legalize "illegal" houses (that is, retroactively to introduce planning projects and urban alternatives)
— aid the research for solutions to obtain building permits
— put in place projects of the European Union with a Palestinian non-governmental organization for judicial support in matters concerning building permits and the demolition of houses
— put in place a project of the European Union on the development of an overall plan concerning Palestinian localities in the proximity of Jerusalem-East.
— aid in finding a solution to the problem of access, which will include a set of political and operational measures, both short and long term
— aid local and international organizations in their information efforts concerning Jerusalem-East
— improve aid by the European Union to palestinian institutions in Jerusalem-East, including cultural activities and the reinforcement of the independence of the community.

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