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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
Prediction 14: Possible EU
troop movements to Israel and/or the Middle East
Europe and Jerusalem
By Jamal Al Majaida
European governments should consider direct intervention in an attempt
to curb the systematic measures being undertaken by Israel to increase
its control and population in the historically - and legally - Arab
eastern sector of Jerusalem, a highly sensitive EU report that was
leaked recently to the press concluded.
The confidential report, prepared by top diplomats representing the 25
EU governments in the city, warns that the chances of a two-state
solution are being eroded by Israel's "deliberate policy" - in breach of
international of law - of "completing the annexation of East Jerusalem."
should consider direct intervention in an attempt to curb the
systematic measures being undertaken by Israel ..."
European foreign ministers earlier vetoed planned publication of the
report which also warns that rapid expansion of the Jewish settlements
in and around East Jerusalem, along with use of the separation barrier
to isolate East Jerusalem from the West Bank, risk radicalizing the
hitherto relatively quiescent Palestinian population of East Jerusalem.
The Independent newspaper described the report as the most detailed and
remorselessly critical account yet produced by Western international
body of Israel's policy in East Jerusalem, which has been occupied since
it seizure in the 1967 Six Day War. It points out that Jerusalem is
already one of the trickiest issues on the road to a final peace deal
between Israel and Palestinians. It adds that as a result of the
measures, prospects for a two state solution with East Jerusalem as the
capital of Palestine are receding.
Among the recommendations in the report, drafted in October during the
British EU presidency which ends next month, the EU is urged to consider
a series of steps including direct support for projects that help
Palestinians to conduct legal battles against house demolitions, which
it points out tripled in the city during 2004, and the persistent
refusal to grant building permits to all but a small minority of
Palestinians. The report also suggests holding meetings with the
Palestinian leadership in East Jerusalem, presumably to demonstrate that
contrary to the Israeli government's goal of Jerusalem as its undivided
capital it sees East Jerusalem as the future capital of the Palestinian
The EU foreign ministers meeting have decided against publication of the
report in its present form because of the risk to its relationship with
the Jewish state especially when for the first time Israel has given its
blessing to the EU having a key security role in the region by
monitoring the Rafah crossing point from Gaza into Egypt.
The 11-page report leaked to the press says the E1 project for a major
expansion of Maale Adumim, the largest Israeli West Bank settlement, to
join it to Jerusalem threatens to complete the encircling of the city by
Jewish settlements, diving the West Bank into two separate geographical
It says that, while the present 30,000 residents of the settlement at
present occupy only 15 percent of the planned area, the total plan
envisages an area of 53 square miles "larger than Tel Aviv" extending
through the West Bank between Jerusalem and Jericho.
While the plan will divide the West Bank from itself and from East
Jerusalem, the report says the economic prospects of the West Bank
(which has a GDP per year per head of $1,000) are highly dependent on
access to East Jerusalem (GDP of $3,500). It adds: "From an economic
perspective, the viability of a Palestinian state depends to a great
extent on the preservation of organic links between East Jerusalem,
Ramallah and Bethlehem."
The document says when the separation barrier is completed, Israel will
control all access to and from East Jerusalem, cutting off its
Palestinian satellite cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, and the rest of
the West Bank and beyond. This will have serious economic, social and
humanitarian consequences for the Palestinians. By vigorously applying
policies on residency and ID status, Israel will be able to finally to
complete the isolation of East Jerusalem the political commercial and
infrastructural centre of Palestinian life.
It adds: "Israel's activities in Jerusalem are in violation of both is
Roadmap obligations and international law. We and others in the
international community have made our concerns clear on numerous
occasions with varying effect. Palestinians are, without exception,
deeply alarmed about East Jerusalem. They feat that Israel will "get
away with it" under cover of disengagement (from Gaza. " The document
says smaller Jewish settlements inside Palestinian areas are sometimes
installed by would-be settlers, preying on Palestinians suffering
financial hardship or simply (occupying) properties by force."
Besides suggesting that a formal call by the EU and the US-led
international quartet on Israel to stop prejudicing final status
negotiations by its actions in East Jerusalem would be timely, one
proposal is for the EU to consider excluding East Jerusalem from certain
EU/Israel joint co-operation activities. While the document does not say
so, this could realistically mean halting European funding for road,
rail and projects which contribute to the process of annexation.
The report says the purpose of keeping West Bank ID holders out of East
Jerusalem and East Jerusalem ID holders out of the West Bank is almost
certainly demographic, to reduce the Palestinian population of Jerusalem
while exerting efforts to boost the number of Israelis living in the
city East and West.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem after capturing the territory in the 1967
war. Most western countries, including the US and EU members, have their
embassies in Tel Aviv and consulates in Jerusalem.
Some 200, 000 Jewish settlers live in east Jerusalem. They moved there
since 1967 while the Palestinian population in the city is now
But the EU report pointed to a number of Israeli policies its said
risked radicalizing the hitherto relatively quiescent Palestinian
population of east Jerusalem." These include: the barrier around East
Jerusalem, expansion of Jewish settlements, demolition of Palestinian
homes, stricter enforcement of rules separating Palestinian residents in
East Jerusalem from those in the West Bank, including a reduction of
work permits, and discriminatory taxation.
The report says that Israel is making it increasingly difficult for
Palestinians to travel between East Jerusalem and the West Bank to visit
holy places and to reach hospitals and schools.
Clear statements by the EU and quartet (US, Russia, the United Nations
and EU) that Jerusalem remains an issue for negotiation by the two
sides, and that Israel should desist from all measures designed to
pre-empt such negotiations, would be timely, the report said.
According to the Times, the report recommends that European officials
take a more aggressive stance toward Israeli policies in East Jerusalem,
such as holding political meeting with Palestinian ministers in East
Jerusalem instead of the West Bank and asking Israel to halt
discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, especially
concerning working permits, building permit, house demolitions, taxation
The document written by British consulate officials in East Jerusalem as
part of Britain's presidency of the European Union, was presented to an
EU council of ministers led by Britain's foreign minister Jack Straw,
according to the Guardian. It said the EU council's discussion of the
matter was postponed until next month at the behest of Italy.
What will come out of the very important report is still not clear.
Israel has already waged a defamation campaign against it accusing the
EU of taking an anti-Israeli stance. Israel has also announced that if
any EU official will hold a meeting with Palestinian Ministers in East
Jerusalem, neither the PM of Israel, nor the FM will accept to meet them
i.e. the EU ministers or officials.
Based on previous experience, it is widely believed that Israel will
start blackmailing the EU in order to shelve the report and forget it by
creating problems for the EU Mission on the Rafah crossing-point.
What is important for the issue to be activated is actually not what the
Europeans will decide on the 12th of December, but how the American
administration will react.
Will the White House and State Department lend their support for the
European report, or will they kill it and add it to the hundreds of
resolutions and plans that have been taken on Arab-Israeli conflict
To give a real support to the report is essential and crucial if the
international community is keen to go ahead with resolving this
long-standing conflict and not only to help put an end to the sufferings
of the Palestinian people.