The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) welcomes the new European Union guidelines that condition future EU-funded projects with Israel on the latter’s recognition of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as Occupied Territories. If implemented, they would forbid any funding, cooperation, awarding of scholarships, research funds or prizes to anyone residing beyond the 1967 borders.
The guidelines are of a limited nature, of course. They do not relate to Israeli products produced in the settlements, nor to corporations, companies and businesses that profit from the Occupation. The guidelines also do not require that all EU member states abide by them as a change in policy would. But they do send a timely message that Israel cannot delay and derail efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict indefinitely, and that sanctions may be ratcheted up as a political solution disappears. It is a message that has been received loud and clear by both the Israeli government and the Israeli public, showing that EU actions do matter.
Although it is Israel’s major trading partner, the EU has chosen to play a secondary role in the Israeli-Palestinian political process, effectively acceding to Israel’s declared policy of excluding it as a political actor. We hope that the decision to bring the guidelines into conformity with EU agreements and policy regarding Israel and its Occupation will be truly implemented and that the EU will begin to see itself as an integral part of any genuine peace process. And until the EU makes the guidelines into actually binding policy on all member states, it will up to the civil societies of each country to ensure that their governments conform to them.
A next step, of course, will be economic sanctions on Israel as a whole. Once it becomes apparent to the EU – perhaps after Kerry’s final initiative – that the Occupation is not going to end and, on the contrary, Israel has instituted a permanent regime of apartheid, sanctions on Israel per se will be required, just as they were on apartheid South Africa. Present distinctions between “Israel” and “the Occupied Territories,” already moot in reality, will soon have to disappear from EU, UN and other governmental guidelines and policies.