02/01/2018, 17.12
EUROPEAN UNION – ISRAEL – PALESTINE

European diplomats slam 'the economic, political and social marginalisation of the Palestinians'

Chefs de mission of EU member countries criticise Israeli policies in East Jerusalem, such as physical isolation, excessive use of force, settlements, and acts of violence by settlers. The European Union must respect the "international consensus on Jerusalem". Some 42.5 million euros are to be set aside to help Palestinians build their state. For UN agency, 206 companies are involved in the settlements.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Israel has been pursuing a campaign of “economic, political, and social marginalisation of the Palestinians in Jerusalem,” say European Union chefs de mission, French daily Le Monde wrote today, citing a EU report to be released today.

The detailed, precise and often blunt document looks at the daily life of Palestinians under the burden of Israeli policies in terms of transportation, construction, education, economy, and violence.

“Because of the physical isolation and Israel’s restrictive permit policy, the city has ceased to be the centre of Palestinian economic, urban and commercial life as it once used to be,” the EU diplomats write.

The charge is backed by figures. East Jerusalem’s part of the Palestinian GDP has dropped from 15 per cent in 1993 when the Oslo Accords were signed to 7 per cent today.

The EU representatives urge EU member states to take a political stand. They slam the decision of US President Donald Trump to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, noting the need to respect the "international consensus on Jerusalem".

They encourage support for "human rights defenders in East Jerusalem", claiming that Israel maintains "a constant repression on the organisation of Palestinian political life" in the city.

The report also criticises the "excessive use of force" by Israeli police and the killing of Palestinian attackers when "they no longer pose a threat".

The diplomats also mention the settlements, denouncing the construction of 3,000 new housing units in 2017.

They urge the EU to establish "a more effective mechanism" to ensure that the products from the settlements do not benefit from "preferential treatment" on the basis of EU-Israel agreements.

Furthermore, they suggest targeted sanctions to exclude "violent settlers" and those who praise violence from entering EU territory.

The diplomats insist that the EU should oppose all legislative initiatives by the Knesset to unilaterally change the boundaries of the city. This refers to a bill that would allow Israel to annex Palestinian neighbourhoods in Jerusalem that are located beyond the wall in order to incorporate adjacent Jewish settlements to the municipality.

The report also condemns the "silent deportation" of Palestinians from Jerusalem, noting that 14,595 Palestinian residents lost their residence permits between 1967 and 2016. A practice that the authors see as aimed at maintaining a substantial "Jewish majority" in the city.

In its conclusion, the document highlights "the unprecedented mobilisation of the Palestinians" characterised by "unity, non-violence and a strong sense of solidarity".

The report comes at a time when the EU has announced a new funding package of 42.5 million euros (nearly m) to help the Palestinians build their new state.

In parallel, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a report that drew fire from Israel and its US ally.

The document looks at companies doing business with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which the international community considers illegal.

The UN agency says it has identified 206 business entities operating in the settlements that “enable and support the establishment, expansion and maintenance of Israeli residential communities beyond the Green Line.”

Of those identified, 143 were based in Israel and 22 were in the United States. The remaining were located in 19 other countries.

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