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The Brussels conference set out to whitewash Israel’s policies

A Palestinian man holds News Israeli Shekels' bills marked with stickers reading "Free Palestine" on March 7, 2011 in the West Bank city of Ramallah, as part of a campaign aimed to peacefully express opposition to Israel's occupation. [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images]
A Palestinian man holds Israeli Shekels' bills marked with stickers reading 'Free Palestine' on March 7, 2011 in the West Bank city of Ramallah [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images]

The European Union and donor countries held a conference yesterday to discuss a new financial proposal to solve the crisis of Israel deducting or “stealing” about $139 million of the tax revenues collected by the occupation state on the Palestinian Authority’s behalf. This is the amount that the PA pays as stipends to the families of prisoners and martyrs, and Israel’s reluctance to pay the cash puts the PA at risk of financial collapse.

The new proposal actually involves accepting Israel’s policy and convincing PA President Mahmoud Abbas to back down from his nationalist, principled position of refusing to accept the entire amount as long as Israel continues to use Palestinians’ money as a means to punish them and put pressure on the authority. What is this new mechanism? How does it serve Israel?

According to Haaretz, the new proposal is based on establishing a system similar to Israel’s national insurance, wherein prisoners are paid a stipend based on their socioeconomic status, regardless of the “violation” they committed. This carries serious and dangerous political implications. It attempts to establish the former Israeli position by dealing with the issue of Palestinian prisoners and martyrs as social and humanitarian situations and thus removing them from their legitimate context and nature of their struggle.

READ: What defines the EU’s relations with Israel and the Palestinians?

This is an unfair international attempt to reject the Palestinian national narrative, which is supported by international legitimacy which stipulates that the Palestinians have the right to resist Israel’s military occupation by any means. The narrative also views the prisoners and martyrs as fighters who were captured or martyred for the sake of freedom from, and resistance against, the occupation.

Not only did the Brussels conference and the donor countries do this, but the EU representatives also asked the PA to accept Israel’s tax transfers provisionally, noting that this “does not constitute a legal or political endorsement of Israeli deductions.” This is an international attempt to whitewash Israel’s hostile positions towards the Palestinian people.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New York, US on 15 January 2018 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agenc

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New York, US on 15 January 2018 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

The European position of requesting that the PA accept the status quo and take a part of the funds is a step backwards for Europe and compensation on its part for the Americans’ inability to pressure the PA after using all of the mediators they could muster. The US no longer has any real cards to play to put pressure on the PA. The European position, meanwhile, shows how keen the world is, not on the interests and money of the Palestinians, but on the continued functional role played by the PA to protect Israel’s security free of charge.

READ: Europe holds no moral high ground in protecting Israeli colonialism

The Palestinian people hope that the PA leadership will continue to adopt a national stance on this issue and reject the international pressure. They hope that the PA, beginning with President Abbas, will continue to move forward with this position and reinstate the Palestinian prisoners’ allowances, especially those from the Gaza Strip, and that the PA lifts its own sanctions imposed on Gaza. This will allow the PA to be aligned with itself on the matter, as the prisoners’ issue cannot be divided.

What every free Palestinian wishes for is that the PA and its President take the initiative and overcome all of the internal and external obstacles and hindrances, in order to complete its position and reach a national reconciliation. This would ensure true partnership to confront the challenges facing the Palestinians, beginning with thwarting Trump’s already ill-fated plan, the so-called “deal of the century”.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 1 May 2019

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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