Israel is making every effort to join regional blocs, even if this means observer status, such as it has at the African Union, and its associated status of the European Union. It is trying to establish some sort of legitimacy as a "normal" state, despite its pariah status in many countries around the world. Some members of the African Union are leading the objections to the unilateral decision by an AU official to grant Israel observer status, because of the contradiction between the aims of the organisation and Israel's bloody record of human rights violations and contempt for international laws and resolutions.
It is worth recalling that in 1974 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution equating Israel's founding ideology, Zionism, with racism. When, in 1967, Israel launched the June war the Arab states met in Khartoum and announced that there would be no peace, no negotiations and no recognition of the occupation state. The so-called Six Day War was intended to complete the ethnic cleansing started by Zionist terrorists in 1948 against the Palestinian people.
The Zionism equals racism resolution was annulled following the Oslo Accords. And now that normalisation of relations with the occupation state has become a popular thing, Israel has started to think that its position is more comfortable, especially in light of unlimited US support regardless of which political party is in the White House. Moreover, the international community has failed to impose any punitive measures against Israel's systematic and ongoing violations of international law and human rights principles. This encourages the Israelis to commit even more violations, including collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, the killing of civilians and the building of settlements on stolen Palestinian land. All settlements are illegal under international law. The established and legitimate rights of the people of Palestine are being trampled on.
Israel also aims to strengthen its colonial influence by taking advantage of the wealth and markets of Africa and the commercial benefits of close links with Europe. Pro-Israel propaganda portrays it as sharing European values, democracy and human rights even though, in practice, it does the opposite. The favoured position of Israel afforded to it by the EU obliges it to respect human rights, but it continues to colonise Palestinian land through its illegal settlements, land confiscation, the Judaisation of Jerusalem, the siege of the Gaza Strip and the abuse of detainees. It is able to do all of these and more because the EU does not hold Israel to account despite the seriousness of its violations, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity according to many local and international human rights organisations.
The occupying power is a colonial state, replacing the European colonialists across Africa and the Middle East, albeit often acting as their unacknowledged proxy. It seeks to strengthen the influence of the Zionist lobby in Europe in order to prevent any countermeasures that may be taken against its colonialism and benefit from access to the European market. It is also seeking to have the EU remove the requirement for goods produced in illegal settlements to be clearly marked as such, labelling which allows consumers to make informed decisions about ethical and unethical purchases.
It is important to remember that Israel is an occupation state that oppresses the indigenous population, including its own citizens, and subjects the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank — including Jerusalem — and Gaza Strip to a brutal military occupation. Its colonial objectives in joining regional blocs are aggressive and exploitative in nature. Palestinian efforts and solidarity activism needs to highlight this fact.
Both the African Union and the European Union claim to uphold human rights and international laws and conventions. Israel's colonial occupation does the opposite. It has no place in such blocs as long as it continues to deny the Palestinians their legitimate rights.
Translated from Samanews, 17 October 2021, and edited for MEMO.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.