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The road to EU diplomacy in Palestine

Activists laid out 4.500 pairs of shoes in front of the Council of the EU in Belgium on 28 May 2018 to represent every person killed in the Israel-Palestine conflict in the past decade [File photo]
Activists laid out 4.500 pairs of shoes in front of the Council of the EU in Belgium on 28 May 2018 to represent every person killed in the Israel-Palestine conflict in the past decade [File photo]

Yesterday, the EU issued two press releases. One feigned belated concern at Israel’s demolition of Palestinian dwellings in Sur Baher and how the settlement expansion policy “undermines the viability of the two-state solution”.

The second was a timely announcement of the inauguration of “European Road” in Barta’a Al-Sharqia in Area C. Lest one forgets, the road project, in which the EU invested €500,000, was also tied to the two-state paradigm: “The European Union is committed to the vision of the two-state solution as the only way to achieve peace and security.”

EU investment in Area C is said to be “aligned to the new Palestinian National Policy Agenda (NPA) 2017-2022 and to the Sustainable Development Goals.” Needless to say, both the NPA and the SDGs have so far failed to materialise for Palestinians, dissociated as they are from the colonial framework which needs to be addressed in order to devise plans that work for Palestinians, instead of general diplomatic agendas.

READ: EU to invest millions in Israel start-ups

An EU report published in March 2019 states that from July to December 2018, Israel targeted 51 EU-funded humanitarian structures in Area C and occupied East Jerusalem, to the cost of €168,000. From 2009 until 2018, Israel damaged or seized €1.45 million worth of EU-funded structures.

The EU’s humanitarian investment in Palestine can be counted in losses due to Israel’s destruction of premises serving Palestinian needs. However, these losses are not a deterrent for EU investment, as long as its economic and diplomatic ties with Israel remain untarnished and yielding prosperity that makes its humanitarian investment losses pale in comparison.

Furthermore, EU investment, “fully in line with international humanitarian law”, is a convenient pretext to promote its two-state diplomacy.

However, the EU also distinguishes between its investment projects in Area C and its facilitation of Israel’s colonial expansion across what remains of historic Palestine. The latter, the EU has clearly exposed, merely warrants a late chiding that will not compensate Palestinians for the loss of their homes and for being forcibly displaced and adding to the refugee statistics.

The inauguration of “European Road” is more a reminder of how the EU prefers to work within a colonial context instead of enabling Palestinian independence. Israel’s actions have perpetually violated international humanitarian law, yet it hasn’t stopped the EU from engaging with the colonial entity. On the contrary, the EU has stepped up its defence of Israel and its purported security narratives. As long as a trickle of humanitarian investment is bequeathed to Palestinians, however, the EU expects a collective, tacit agreement to turn a blind eye to its complicity in also funding international humanitarian law violations.

Away from the ceremonies, which will soon be forgotten until the next EU endeavour which requires celebration without accountability, Palestinians will be facing the same hardships which EU humanitarian endeavours allegedly seek to alleviate. Building a road to provide easier access to services is not enough to counter Israeli restrictions of Palestinian freedom of movement. Like Israel, the EU can get away with its omissions when it comes to human rights.

READ: Israel disappointed with appointment of new EU foreign minister

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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