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Energy deals with Israel violate EU policies, says BDS National Committee

A view of the platform of the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea is pictured from the Israeli northern coastal city of Caesarea on December 19, 2019 [Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]
A view of the platform of the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea is pictured from the Israeli northern coastal city of Caesarea on December 19, 2019 [Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

The European Union's energy deals with Israel violate the block's own policies and obligations under international law, according to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC). The committee is the broadest Palestinian civil society coalition that works to lead and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Exposing what they say is the "EU's energy hypocrisy," BNC calls it out for consistently failing to respect the union's own "territorial clause in agreements with Israel." BNC claims that the EU violates the territorial clause by promoting and financing energy deals and projects with the Apartheid State.

On 10 December 2012, the EU Foreign Affairs Council on the Middle East Peace Process declared that "all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, namely, the Golan Heights, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip."

This clause was reaffirmed in June when the EU, Egypt and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation related to trade, transport and export of natural gas to the European Union. Asked by European parliamentarians about the absence of a territorial clause in the MoU, the Commission clarified the EU's position.

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"The EU is strictly prohibited, also in the implementation of a non-binding instrument, from acting in a way which would amount to recognise the illegal Israeli occupation," the Commission said, adding that this "… entails that Israeli supplies of natural gas as per the implementation of the memorandum of understanding may not originate from resources appropriated from Palestinian territories occupied by Israel."

BNC says that in practice the EU is granting recognition and assistance to the illegal Israeli occupation by seeking to facilitate European access to Israeli fossil gas-based energy through its various initiatives. Israel seized the fossil fuel through pillage and exploitation of Palestinian natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territories, including land, water and gas reserves, BNC argues.

"The EU is turning a blind eye to the fact that such imports of Israeli gas are based on the appropriation and exploitation of the sea adjacent to the occupied Gaza Strip," says BNC commenting on European import of Israeli gas from Egypt's LNG facility, which is at the centre of the MoU signed in June. Palestinians hold sovereign rights to the water's natural resources and the seabed.

Another violation of Palestinian sovereignty is the Ashkelon-Al Arish Pipeline. Israeli gas reaches Egypt through the Ashkelon-Al Arish Pipeline, a 90 kilometre pipeline that crosses the Mediterranean Sea at 13 nautical miles from Gaza's shore, violating Palestinian sovereign rights, BNC points out. "Palestinians have neither been asked for permission nor offered due transit fees for the use of this pipeline in their waters," says the group.

BNC goes on to state that the pipeline is one of the reasons for the inhuman and criminal sea blockade enforced by Apartheid Israel on Palestinians in Gaza and calls on others to expose the "EU's energy hypocrisy."

READ: UN: Israel violates humanitarian law in Palestine

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