The European Union’s fluctuations on Israel’s colonial settlement expansion are more prominent since the bloc’s refusal to issue a statement regarding US President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century. In response to Israel’s announcement that it would be building additional settlements in Har Homa and Givat Hamatos, the EU and its member states have issued several statements condemning the move and saying that it impedes the (already obsolete) two-state compromise from being implemented.
France’s statement, in particular, exposes its own as well as the EU’s duplicity on the issue: “Colonisation is illegal in all its forms under international law.” Colonisation is illegal under international law, and yet the EU persists in supporting Israel by advocating the two-state paradigm and offering preferential trade and other deals. The extent to which settlement expansion has been dissociated from Israeli colonisation has made it possible for the EU to condemn parts of colonisation while obliterating the process. Until a purportedly opposing paradigm comes up, the EU — at least for the time being — feels obliged to refer to international law in order to give the impression that it is against annexation which will, of course, will be the next US-Israeli move against the Palestinian people and their legitimate political rights.
The EU statement points out how the new Israeli settlements would affect territorial contiguity and reminds us that it will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders. However, Israel has moved past needing any formal recognition, partly due to US backing for its unilateral declarations at opportune moments for advancing the Israeli colonisation of Palestine. Prior to the emergence of this dynamic, the EU and the international community provided the foundations from which Israel could and still does act without any serious repercussions beyond mere condemnations.
European credibility on the issue of decolonisation is non-existent. In November 2019, the EU’s delegate to the UN, Andrea Pontiroli, delivered a statement to the international organisation’s Fourth Committee on Decolonisation which affirmed the bloc’s commitment to the two-state compromise. The underlying message highlights the corruption evident at an international level: a committee tasked with decolonisation has normalised the ongoing colonisation of Palestine. This has been achieved through the international refusal to distinguish between Israeli colonisation and military occupation, the latter simply being a derivative to consolidate the Zionist state’s colonial expansion in Palestine.
Failing Palestinians is high on the agenda in Europe and internationally. The narrative is still that of Trump’s deal juxtaposed against the two-state compromise. Yet the EU and the international community are doing nothing to halt the political implications of the unilateral implementation of the supposed “peace plan”, as has already been hinted by Israel regardless of the election result next month.
If the EU merely reiterates its stance regarding the two-state compromise after delaying its response, Israel reaps reassurances at both ends. Colonisation is illegal, which makes the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle legitimate. A stance that supports Palestinian resistance would have more political resonance than the rhetoric that makes headlines solely due to the EU’s international positioning and prominent role in the “peace building” farce. France’s statement on the illegality of colonialism will not be followed up with action. More likely, the EU will issue a statement on annexation and how it harms the two-state illusion while refusing to acknowledge the colonial process that, in reality, it supports explicitly. Speaking against settlement expansion and, no doubt, annexation, is simply a chore for the EU.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.