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How the EU constructs Israel impunity

Israeli policemen take security measures as Israeli forces demolish a Palestinian house in Salfit, West Bank on January 10, 2023. [Nedal Eshtayah - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli policemen take security measures as Israeli forces demolish a Palestinian house in Salfit, West Bank on January 10, 2023. [Nedal Eshtayah - Anadolu Agency]

The EU could have availed itself of an opportunity to hold Israel accountable for its violations but, instead. it opted for the lesser value of requesting financial reparation for the structures funded by the bloc in the Occupied West Bank and destroyed by the settler-colonial enterprise. Neither is the EU's request a novelty, since demanding financial compensation from Israel has happened in the past, without any compliance, of course.

Recent focus on Israel's planned forced displacement of Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta prompted 24 European Parliament members to contact the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, regarding financial reparation. The bottom line is that, while the EU is within its rights to demand financial compensation, the issue at stake – which is the Palestinian people being forcibly displaced by Israel – is nowhere on the EU's agenda.

Lenarcic's response, partially quoted by Haaretz, confirms the EU's repetitive requests for financial compensation and that "the European Union is continuing to work in this regard through a range of diplomatic and political channels". Of little to no consequence was Lenarcic's reminding that EU representatives often visit areas in the Occupied West Bank that are slated for demolition, ostensibly "to warn against". Yet, besides the opportunistic exploitation, keeping tally of EU-funded destroyed dwellings is more a case in point and futile, too. As Lenarcic stated, "The list of possible steps to ensure compensation from Israel for European financing that went down the drain in demolitions has not yet come up for discussion."

READ: Away from the rhetoric, where is European support for Palestine?

If holding Israel accountable for something as basic as a financial transaction for damages it caused prompts so much caution in the EU's official statements, it is safe to say that human rights in the EU's repertoire, when it comes to Israel, descends into still silence. The EU still has not addressed the fact that, without holding Israel accountable for forcibly displacing Palestinians, its humanitarian projects for Palestinians is also financing Israel's violations. Yet it is precisely what the humanitarian project which the international community imposed upon Palestinians intended. By investing a fragment of humanitarian aid aimed at alleviating the suffering caused by Israel's colonial existence and violence, the international community can bypass the actual violations which go against international law.

The EU is no exception to this imposed rule. Advocacy by EU representatives does not work to hold Israel accountable but to extend a permanent contract of silence which, in turn, also silences Palestinians. Despite having political means at their disposal, EU representatives prefer playing the amateur activists when it comes to Palestine. Funds for travelling to the Occupied West Bank, after all, form part of the humanitarian project which Palestinians are forced to fit in. In the same way, EU-funded dwellings play a role in the humanitarian project but fail to sustain Palestinian autonomy. The latest purported concern has nothing to do with Palestinians, and is only marginally related to the EU-funded dwellings that Israel routinely destroys. Detracting from Israel's settler-colonial expansion and the EU's role in maintaining it, however, is a major part of what the humanitarian paradigm constitutes.

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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