EXCLUSIVE - In a confidential report, which Le Figaro has seen, these heads of mission call for a stronger distinction between Israel and the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Corresponding to Jerusalem
The worrying state of affairs that EU Heads of Missions set out at the same time every year at the same time can sometimes seem repetitive. In recent weeks, however, their internal report to the Political and Security Committee was eagerly awaited. What answer do these diplomats accredited to the Palestinian Authority recommend after American recognition of the Holy City as the capital of Israel? "This is the first time that a final status parameter has been subject to a third party policy change since the conclusion of the Oslo Accords (signed in 1993)," they note in an introduction to this. 49 pages of which Le Figaro took notice. In a transparent allusion to the Trump Administration's peace plan, they call on the EU and its Member States to reaffirm without hesitation that "any future initiative aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must, among other things, aim at the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the two states ".
In terms of observation, diplomats observe with gravity that "in the absence of a significant peace process, developments in 2017 have further accelerated the erosion of the two-State solution." The past year has been marked by "a record increase in the number of colonization plansIn East Jerusalem, "including areas identified by member states as essential" to the creation of a Palestinian state. In total, more than 3,000 housing units for Israelis are under construction in the eastern part of the city, where some 215,000 settlers already reside (in addition to 317,000 Palestinians). Most of these projects are located in the eleven large settlements around the historic basin, but also in enclaves in the heart and on the edge of the Old City. Palestinian families are regularly evicted from their homes at the request of settler organizations who wish to strengthen their presence there. In the periphery of Jerusalem, moreover, the Israeli government plans to evacuate several Bedouin communities established on land where it has often expressed its intention to enlarge existing settlements.
The Heads of Mission stress that Israel is actively engaged in "the political, economic and social marginalization of Palestinians in Jerusalem", and this "in violation of its obligations under international humanitarian law". In 2017, they note, they were 95 to lose their residency status because they no longer satisfied the conditions imposed by the Jewish state. A total of 14,595 Palestinians had to give up living in East Jerusalem between 1967 and 2016. The report recalls that these revocations are part of a development plan adopted by the Jerusalem City Hall in 2007, one of which The objectives claimed are to "preserve a substantial Jewish majority". He points to the lack of services in the field of health as well as education - it is estimated that 1938 classes are missing for Palestinian students - and notes that the isolation of East Jerusalem, accentuated by the construction of the wall of separation, precipitated its economic decline. "The city's contribution to the Palestinian GDP has fallen from 15% before the Oslo Accords to less than 7% today," diplomats write, who also deplore "a constant crackdown on all forms of organized Palestinian political life. ".
The report also points the recent start of three laws on the delineation of the administrative boundaries of Jerusalem. The first proposes to excise Palestinian neighborhoods located on the fringes of the city. Another plans, on the contrary, to absorb several neighboring Jewish settlements. Finally, a law complicating the transfer of any territory in Jerusalem to a foreign power was recently adopted by the Knesset. "Each of these initiatives has ramifications that could affect the two-state solution," reads the report. Finally, the authors warn against the inexorable rise of tension around the esplanade of the Mosques, which, in the heart of the summer of 2017, provided the pretext for the murder of two Israeli policemen then nourished a strong mobilization against the porticos installed by the police.
Faced with this acceleration of history, EU Heads of Mission are urging their capitals to harden their tone. These, they insist, must obviously refuse the temptation to emulate the United States by transferring their capital to Jerusalem until the final status of the city has been determined by negotiations. In the meantime, they call for the fight against the facts accomplished by the Jewish State - for example, by challenging the relevant international organizations with its tourist or archaeological projects in East Jerusalem. They propose to demand the reopening of Palestinian institutions in the city, especially the House of the East, and to strengthen support for activists who defend human rights there. Above all, they advocate developing the policy of differentiation between Israel and the settlements of the West Bank. "We invite, they add, the Member States to consider changing the immigration rules to violent settlers."
Diplomats, on the front line facing the erosion of the status quo in JerusalemWill they be listened to by their governments? The answer is uncertain, as Member States hesitate and disagree on the best way to respond to Israeli policy. On Christmas Eve, the reservations introduced by several Eastern European states with a view to alleviating some of the report's conclusions delayed its adoption. But the European Commission posted Wednesday its determination by unlocking 14.9 million euros to "preserve the Palestinian character of the city and counter a disturbing erosion." On the ground, however, at the same time, the heads of mission are unanimous in wanting to break with the discretion that they traditionally impose in order to "guarantee media visibility for (their) public diplomacy actions".
"Countering the activities of colonization"
The tenth of the twelve recommendations made by European diplomats will undoubtedly not go unnoticed in Israel. To "counteract settlement activities", they call on the EU and member states to deepen their policy of "differentiation" between the Jewish state and the West Bank settlements. Starting from the observation that the directive imposing the labeling of the goods manufactured in these establishments, published at the end of 2015 by the European Commission, is very unequally applied (France transposed it in November 2016), they recommend to their capitals to pass the speed higher. The report also calls for "more effective mechanisms to ensure that settlement products do not enjoy the preferential treatment" applied since 2004 between Israel and the EU. "This is in theory already the case, but the tools available to European economic players to identify these goods are not developed," decrypts a specialist. Their tracking is based on a database that has not been updated while the postal codes of many colonies were changed four years ago. Diplomats also recommend that the "differentiation" clause, as it was incorporated at the end of 2013 into a scientific cooperation agreement, be broken down into the other fields of the partnership between Israel and the EU. Finally, they call for "developing a communication strategy" to better counter the amalgamation between the boycott, which Europe condemns, and the distinction between Israel and its colonies, to which it invites.