The European Union's (EU) discriminatory and racist labelling requirements for Jewish goods and products originating from Judea and Samaria has now seen Israel effectively label the EU as "persona non grata" in the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.
The EU finds itself in this sorry position following Israel's decision to reassess the involvement of EU bodies in that diplomatic process and to suspend contacts with the EU and its representatives until that reassessment is completed.
The labelling requirements reflect the EU's political position that settlement by Jews in Judea and Samaria is illegal in international law. This claim has never been the subject of any binding authoritative legal decision.
The International Court of Justice decision on 9 July 2004 was only an advisory opinion sought by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and not a legally binding precedent.
That opinion was itself deficient since the Court was never asked by the Secretary-General to consider the legal effect of two territory-specific pieces of international law applicable to Judea and Samaria. Those provisions - article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter - vested and preserved the legal right to "close settlement by Jews" in Judea and Samaria for the purposes of reconstituting the Jewish National Home.
At best the EU's longstanding position - that influenced its labelling laws - is only an opinion - and nothing more.
The EU should think very carefully before imposing any retaliatory trade action against Israel for freezing the EU out of the peace process – since Israel still has some more bitter medicine for the EU to swallow:
- Forbidding the transfer of EU funds to non-government organisations in Israel engaged in activities designed to advance the interests of the Israeli Arab population and to interfere in the internal affairs of a member State of the United Nations.
- Ending all co-operation with the EU in Area C in Judea and Samaria by terminating existing development and infrastructure programs for the benefit of the Arab population and forbidding any such EU activities there in the future.
The EU's labelling laws contravene the joint statement issued by the Quartet – America, Russia, The European Union and the United Nations - on 10 April 2002:
We reiterate that there is no military solution to the conflict and call on the parties to move towards a political resolution of their disputes based on UNSCR 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace - which formed the basis for the Madrid Conference of 1991. We reaffirm our support for the objective expressed by President Bush and spelled out in UNSCR 1397, of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side within secure and recognized borders.
Attempting to influence any political resolution regarding secure and recognized boundaries - using its labelling requirements to pressure Israeli territorial concessions - could spell the death knell for President Bush's Roadmap and its "two-state solution".
The EU is free to pursue any policy it wants – but also must take full responsibility for the consequences of its reprehensible labelling laws and Israel's rapid response.
Should the EU now gracefully bow out of the Quartet due to its clearly revealed conflict of interest and one-sided bias – or does it have to be told to go packing by the other members of the Quartet if their impartiality in the peace process is to be maintained?
The EU cannot remain a member of the Quartet whilst implementing labelling requirements that favour Arab claims over Jewish claims.
The EU now faces swallowing a poison pill of its own making.
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