Ambassadors to Israel representing 28 European Union States (EU) behaved most undiplomatically in ambushing the recently appointed Director of Israel's Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador to Australia - Yuval Rotem - at a meet and greet function Rotem had organised at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv last week.
Instead of the pleasant banter over drinks and canapes usually associated with such events on the diplomatic cocktail circuit - the function erupted into an explosive EU protest against Israel's plans to evict Arab squatters from 42 structures that had been illegally erected between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem at the strategically narrowest point in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) known as E1.
Lars Faarburg-Andersen - the EU Ambassador to Israel – took the opportunity to read out to Rotem a one-page statement which had been approved by the EU political-security committee - in which all 28 member states are represented.
This gauche and uncivilised behaviour was certainly uncalled for and not conduct that one would ever expect to come from such refined and cultured Europeans.
Reading this carefully-crafted statement at the function was a cavalier action aggravating the already strained relationship between the EU and Israel following the EU's introduction on 11 November 2015 of labelling requirements for goods produced in Judea and Samaria entering Europe.
The statement revealingly exposes the hypocrisy of the EU for the following reasons:
- It was framed as a "demarche" – a diplomatic or official initiative – a protest normally delivered through diplomatic channels – not at a cocktail function.
- The statement confirms EU members were involved – without Israel's approval - in the funding of these particular illegal structures located in Area C of Judea and Samaria – where Israel has sole administrative and security control under the 1993 Oslo Accords.
This is not the first occasion the EU has sought to impose itself in Area C by supporting illegal Arab building activities where it has no legal right to be present or involved.
On 13 December 2016 the EU Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement acknowledging that humanitarian structures provided by the EU and EU Member States in 2016 worth approximately EUR 536,000 had been either destroyed or confiscated.
The EU then claimed that its activities were humanitarian and carried out in full accordance with International Humanitarian Law - with the "sole aim" of providing humanitarian support to the most vulnerable population.
Yet this pious claim has exploded in its face with its own admission in the demarche that:
The EU and EU member States are united in the view that Area C is of critical importance for the viability of a future Palestinian State
What the EU has really been doing under the guise of humanitarian aid is financing illegal Arab structures designed to create irreversible facts on the ground favouring the claims of the Palestine Liberation Organisation over the national and security interests of Israel. The EU has been outed engaging in such reprehensible actions tainted by illegality outside diplomatic norms.
Israel's response to this unprecedented ambush and illegal misconduct has been remarkably restrained.
Avivit Bar-Ilan director of the Israel Foreign Ministry's European Union Department has told EU Deputy Ambassador to Israel Mark Gallagher:
In Israel, illegal construction is dealt with according to the law.
Bar-Ilan wryly observed:
There are 32 humanitarian crises around the world, but the European Union opts to deal disproportionately only with what happens in Area C, which undoubtedly isn't in a humanitarian crisis...
The 28 Ambassadors – carrying their demarche between their tails - should be sent packing to Europe for a period of reflection and introspection.
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