and on the occasion of the „Land Day“ in Palestine, The position of Israel regarding the relations towards Europe, Europe’s Possibilities and scope of action
Petition on the occasion of the „International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination“ (1)
and on the occasion of the „Land Day“ in Palestine
The position of Israel regarding the relations towards Europe
The relations of trade between Israel and the European Union are prosperous. In the last five years 44% of Israeli imports and 28 % of Israeli exports have been exchanged with the European Union.
While the European countries supported dozens of resolutions of the United Nations which condemned the illegal actions of Israel, which all have been blocked by the veto of the USA we must pose the question: Is the capacity of the European Union to act so small indeed?
The peoples of the European Union are against the racist policy of Israel, as it was shown for example in a poll of the European Union one year ago, when 60% of the Europeans said, that they think that Israel is the biggest danger for the world peace. But European politicians and media try to slander this strong critic from the civil society in the lump as „anti-Semitic“, and even worse than this, they try to use this to stir up new resentments against Muslims in Europe. Israel uses the accusation of anti-Semitism to be able to continue the policy of murder and occupation. In July 2004 a „headline“ went throughout the world: A Jewish woman was attacked by some Arab man, they painted and cut swastikas on her body. Even president Jacques Chirac had to comment this headline. Ariel Sharon urged all French Jews to leave France, also after it came out, that this attack was just fictitious. The call of Ariel Sharon should additionally intoxicate the atmosphere. This was going too far, also for the French president Jacques Chirac, and he said that Ariel Sharon is not welcome in France anymore.
Apartheid-Wall in Palestine – “Bantustans” instead of a just solution towards peace?
During his visit to Palestine Desmond Tutu, the South African winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace said:
„Much that I have seen there is equivalent to the experiences of the Black people in South Africa. I saw, how the Palestinians are humiliated at the checkpoints and road blocks. They suffer the same treatment as we did, when young white policemen where preventing us from moving freely“.
Especially since Israel is building a wall which is annexing more and more Palestinian land, a wall, which steals the basic human rights of the Palestinians, which strangles cities and separates members of families, which disrupts the social and economic relations between the Palestinians, and which destroys even the last hope, that the Israeli government is ready to accept a sovereign and viable state for the Palestinians, the comparison with the former regime of Apartheid gets more frequently. One of the first similarities between Israel and the former state of South Africa is that both have been built on colonial land robbery, which was going hand in hand with the bloody expulsion of the native peoples.
1948, in the year of al-Nakba (the catastrophe), as the Israeli state was founded and the Palestinian inhabitants have been massacred and expulsed, the settlers of South Africa implemented the system of Apartheid, which institutionalised the legal and economic discrimination of the Black people. Equally in Israel there have been implemented laws to discriminate the Palestinians, like the ban of “mixed marriages”. It is a fact that it was long time legal to torture Palestinians in the prisons of Israel. Because of a decision of the Supreme Court torture is forbidden now, but it is still current practice.
Especially in the years of the peace process of Oslo the systems in the former South Africa and Israel got more and more similar. Because of the Process of Oslo the contradictory policy of social exclusion (that means discrimination of the Palestinians) on the one side, and territorial integration (that means the growing settlement of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) on the other side was institutionalised. Many see especially in this process a kind of Apartheid. The consequence was the establishing of “Bantustans” in the Palestinian territories.
In fact the Palestinian Authority after accepting the peace process did not get the sovereignty over the remaining 22% of historical Palestine. Despite the fact, that the Palestinian Authority should govern nearly the whole West Bank in 1996, in July 2000 it just had control over 17,2 % (the so called Zone A).
During the years of the peace process the number of Israeli settlers in the Palestinian territories doubled and rose to a number of 410 000. The growing settlement, which was going hand in hand with the separation of the territories into Zones A, B and C, prepared for Israel, what should be finished now by building the wall: Five isolated and scarcely viable “Bantustans”. Israel’s vision for a “future Palestinian State” are four or five enclaves around the cities of Gaza, Jenin, Nablus and Hebron. In this vision a connected territory does not exist.
“Compared with this concept the Bantustans created from former South Africa seem like bastions of freedom, of sovereignty and of self-determination.”, so the opinion of Baruch Kimmerling.
The “reservations” of the Black People in South Africa constituted 13% of the territory of South Africa. After the establishment of the wall the “Bantustans” in Palestine should constitute less than 12% of the historical Palestine.
Regarding the fact how far-reaching the Palestinians are already now limited in their lives because of the construction of this wall - that is on many places eight metres high, and that is 730 kilometres long - the devastating consequences after the finish of the construction are not foreseeable. When it will be finished, the wall will in fact annex about 50% of the West Bank. Nearly 16 % of the Palestinians will live under unbearable conditions outside of the wall, in the territories that have been annexed by Israel. The loss of the acres, the markets, the loss of the freedom to move and the fundamental things of life will force the Palestinians to leave their houses and villages.
Just in the Eastern part of Jerusalem 200 000 Palestinians are victims of this illegal land-robbery. They will be totally isolated from the West Bank. 98 % of the settlers will be living inside the territories which will be annexed in the course of building the apartheid-wall.. All in all 2 Million m² have been destroyed, hundreds of houses demolished and 35 Palestinians have been killed “in connection with the construction of the wall”. (November 2004)
Regarding the far-reaching violations of International Israel is committing by building this wall, there was big international protest against this construction. With vast majority the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 20th of July 2004 demanded from the Israeli government to tear down the so called “security fence” that is built on Palestinian territory. With 150 against 6 votes and with 10 abstentions the United Nations called upon Israel to accept the decision of the International Court in Den Haag from the 9th of July.
The highest UN-Court had seen the wall as contradictory to international law. All the states of the European Union supported this resolution, just Australia, Micronesia, Israel, the Marshall Island, Palau and the USA voted against it. With other words: Nearly the whole world is against this wall, it is seen as violation of International laws, but in spite of this, Israel still is working to build this prison of the Palestinian people.
It seems that Israel has not to care about this decisions. It knows, that since his foundation, it is without far-reaching consequences for Israel, not to feel bound on International Law. While the International Community imposed sanctions and an embargo on Iraq, that killed more than 1 Million people, and while the International Community was watching silent, when the USA was bombing this starving country in the spring of 2003, while it came out that the accusations, the Iraq owns weapons of mass destruction was just propaganda lies of the USA, one resolution after the other is passed against Israel, without any effect.
Now, after it is admitted officially, that the reasons against the war against Iraq have been a lie from the side of the USA the same cynical game is played with Iran. And again it is all about weapons of mass destruction, again supervisors should be sent and sanctions should be imposed.
Under conditions like this Israel, that owns some hundreds of nuclear bombs, Israel is uninhibited able to threaten to bomb the Nuclear plants of Iran.
We must ask ourselves, if the United Nations, as representative of the international community, wants to serve as an instrument of power of two states against the rest of the world? Does not the United Nations have more capacity to act for the nations of the world, and haven’t especially the European countries, that are all together showing their protest against the illegitimate action of Israel, a bigger scope of action?
Europe’s Possibilities and scope of action
In the last decades the way of action from the side of European States in opposite to nowadays was different: today it seems that without doing anything the whole world has to watch Israel, how it is violating international law and is acting against the Palestinian people.
Especially the peace process in the 90s helped Israel to get international acceptance. States that refused before having trade- and business-relations with an occupation power, after the signing of the treaties of Oslo started economic contacts. While the settlement of the West Bank by Israeli settlers continued as fast as never before, the years of the peace process of Oslo have been years of Prosperity for Israel, in diplomatic and economic aspects.
Especially the 40 years lasting boycott of Arab countries brought big problems for the Israeli economy. The Arab States not just boycotted Israel, but also foreign enterprises that worked together with Israel and their partners. 1994 these indirect sanctions have been lifted, and this opened a lot of doors for Israel. International Enterprises that preferred to cooperate with Arab Countries in the 70s and 80s now made steps towards Israel. The chamber of Trade reported, that because of these 40 years of sanctions by the Arab countries possibilities for export with an amount of 49 Milliard of Dollar have been lost for Israel. Because of Oslo just in 1994 more than 20 countries started diplomatic relation with Israel, more have been following. Besides the Arab countries new markets were open now in South East Asia, in Latin America, in the Middle East. The exports to Asia were raising 1994 a maximum of 30 %, to India more than 50%, to Thailand more than 70 %. China, that had long time no economic relations with Israel, developed to one of the biggest market for the Israeli civil – and military industry since 1995. The Israeli economic miracle expressed in numbers: Between 1995 and 1999 the GDP was raising more than 50% from 264 to 410 Milliards Shekel. The process of Oslo brought international acceptance because of the willingness for peace, and so it brought a necessary economic rise. In spite of the termination of this process this rise got no limits. Keeping occupation and exploitation of Palestinians, the peace process brought economic prosperity after decades of restrictions.
1995 also the European Community signed a treaty of association with Israel, which is implemented since June 2000 and for example guarantees the exemption from duties. Besides this Israel is the only non-member-country that is part of the EU-research program. In January 2003 French Universities demanded to suspend this treaty as long as Israel keeps the Palestinians from studying regularly in Palestinian Universities. In Article II of this treaty of associations it is written that the relations between the signing states are based on their adherence to human rights and to democratic principles. During the so-called “Operation Defensive Shield”, the massacres in Jenin., on the 10th of April 2002 the European Parliament demanded with big majority “to suspend the treaty between the European Union and Israel”.
In the years of the first Intifada the European instruments of pressure have been successful:
From January until December 1988 the European Parliament refused to confirm three financial protocols between the European Community and Israel. This was an expression of protest against the actions of Israel, who expropriated Palestinian farmers and shipped their products under Israeli flag to Europe. Finally Israel had to agree to the transit of these products through Israel, and so the protocols have been confirmed.
1990 the European Community suspended the scientific co-operation with Israel, as long as Israel could not stand anymore the pressure and the Palestinian schools and universities had been opened again.
Because of the decision in Den Haag in July, the Non-Aligned-Movement proposed a partly boycott of Israel in August 2004. Enterprises who are involved in the construction of the apartheid-wall should be sanctioned, and Israeli settlers should not be allowed to travel into the member countries of the Non-Aligned-Movement.
If this propose from the Non-Aligned-Movement (115 member states) would be accepted also in the UN this could be an important possibility to limit the actions of Israel that are against international law.
Also German voices, like Karl Lamers from CSU/CDU, who is speaker of the party in the field of foreign policy, or the Peace Research Institutes IFSH or HFSH in an opinion 2001 demanded to put economic pressure on Israel.
The impression that Europe is not able to act in international policy without the help of the USA is too shortsighted. Indeed there would be many possibilities to take responsibility to observe International Law.
Besides the symbolic effect, that had for example the international boycott of the former Apartheid regime in South Africa, over all it had been the sanctions, that had been imposed 1977 by the Security Council, that had opened the end of the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa. And fortunately this Apartheid regime in South Africa is now part of the past.
Regarding the above we address the European Commission with the following concerns:
The European Union has far more possibilities to be engaged for a just solution in Palestine, and for the implementation of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The European Union is responsible for the security and the protection of the Palestinian people and its political representatives. If the European Union wants to make an effort towards peace in Palestine, the Palestinian side now is the wrong address to put pressure on. Now it is time to demand steps from the Israeli government, which demands more and more concessions from the Palestinian side, but did not prove the readiness for peace from its side until now.
We ask the European Commission to consider its possibilities to put political and economic pressure on the Israeli government, and to make an effort for the following:
To stop the construction of the Apartheid-Wall
For a withdrawal of all the Israeli occupation forces from Gaza and the West Bank
For the security and the rights of the Palestinian refugees
For the security and protection of the Palestinian people and its political representatives, which also includes the end of the so-called “extralegal liquidations”, the end of the arrests, and the release of the Palestinian political prisoners
In addition we ask the European Commission and the responsible Institutions of the European Union for the following:
To respect the sovereignty of Lebanon, which also includes acknowledging the positive role of Syria in Lebanon against the persistent endangering from the side of Israel
To oppose the threats of USA and Israel against Syria and Iran, and to make efforts to have relations towards Syria and Iran determined by friendship and mutual respect
To strengthen the engagement for a Palestinian State and for justice for the Palestinian People
Published: 21st March 2005 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Handed over: 31st March 2005, the Land Day in Palestine.
(1)On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
List of Supporters (as at 30st March 2005)
Palästinensische Gemeinde in Österreich
Palästinensische Ärzte und Apotheker
Aktion Frieden für Palästina
Generalunion Palästinensischer Studenten
Ellen Rohlfs (Waldkur in Leer, Deutschland)
Aktionsbündnisses für einen gerechten Frieden für Palästina
Günter Schenk (Beinheim, Frankreich)
Gerlinde Scherer (Ohlsbach, Deutschland)
Dr. Angela Waldegg (Wien, Österreich)
Dr. Brigitte Kossek (Wien, Österreich)
Islamisches Bildungs- und Kulturzentrum IBIKUZ (Wien, Österreich)
Dr. Ibrahim K. Lada'a
Klaus und Elfriede Thierfelder
Sedunia - Initiative for international Politics www.sedunia.org
German version of the petition http://www.sedunia.org/stellungnahmen/petition31032005.htm