Last month’s decision by the European Court of Justice which insisted on the labelling of Israeli goods produced on the illegal settlements in occupied Palestine, has been denounced as an attack on the Jewish people, by a member of the Israeli government.
The astonishing rebuke, which implied that the legal decision was anti-Semitic, was directed at the European Union’s top court, by former Israeli minister and senior Likud figure, Gideon Sa’ar, during the Israel Allies Foundation conference in Jerusalem this morning.
In the meeting attended by several legislators from various parts of the world, Sa’ar denounced the court for not “acting legally” and accused them of conveying a “lack of moral clarity.” His accusations, however, are at odds with international law, as the EU’s top court affirmed through last month’s judgement.
Under international law, settlements are illegal, as is the transfer of civilian population to an illegally occupied territory. Israel contests this international consensus, however. Amongst its justification for denying Palestinians the rights and provisions granted to Jews in the occupied territory, is its claim that the land it calls Judea and Samaria, was given to the Jewish people by God, almost three millenniums ago.
Sa’ar announced to the participants, consisting mainly of religious figures, that the court’s decision “is an attempt to delegitimise the right of the Jewish people to live and build our future in the land of our forefathers.”
Insisting that the Jewish people cannot be “occupiers” in their own land, ” Sa’ar concluded by calling on the EU, and on governments around the world, not to be “blind to the truth” and to “show moral clarity, when it comes to the conflict, and all the issues in the Middle East.”
Sa’ar’s remarks follow a series of controversial moves that critics deem are intended to normalise Israel’s colonisation. The latest in this sequence of provocative steps saw the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, upending international norms, by recognising Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory. “Arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace” Pompeo proclaimed while disposing of the legal framework for determining right from wrong, in such matters.
The remarks were widely denounced for relegating Palestine to an extra-legal matter, as though it were a lawless frontier beyond the purview of universally accepted norms of behaviour. This trend has raised concerns that it will accelerate the retreat of a multi-national system, founded on the ideals of a rules-based international order, with respect for human rights and minorities.