Thu 16 March 2023:
Israel has reacted to European criticism by blocking the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, from making an official visit to the occupation state and the Palestinian Authority. “There’s no reason to reward him [Borrell] for his conduct,” said Israel in a fit of pique.
The snub follows comments made by Borrell on Tuesday while addressing the European Parliament during a special session on “the deterioration of democracy in Israel.” Denouncing the high representative’s comments, Israel told the EU not to “meddle” in its internal affairs.
Borrell was more scathing in his criticism of Israel in an article published last week. “Violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods – almost always with impunity,” he said. “Moreover, Israeli military operations frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning Holy Sites is eroding.
“While Israelis can rely on a strong state and army, Palestinians have no such recourse. This vast inequality in the ability to control one’s destiny is visible at every roadside checkpoint. All these facts are obstacles to peace.”
Since the start of 2023 alone, more than 80 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli army and settler attacks. All of Israel’s settlements and Jewish settlers on Palestinian land are illegal under international law.
The EU, which is Israel’s biggest trading partner accounting for 29 per cent of its trade in goods, has shown signs that it is losing patience with the occupation state’s routine human rights abuses and flouting of international law.
The EU’s close economic ties with Tel Aviv have continued against the backdrop of Israeli violence, the election of a far-right government and the backsliding of democracy. This has hit the credibility of the 27-member bloc. The consensus within the global human rights community about Israel’s practice of apartheid has also pushed the EU into a corner, with its claim of being a supporter of international norms being held up for ridicule.
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