The Knesset should cancel agreement allowing EU sponsored projects in Area C and Eastern Jerusalem: Are good relations with the EU worth it if the price to pay is surrendering strategic land that is key for Israel’s survival?
By Ezequiel Doiny
On December 28, 2017 Israel National News reported “A number of government ministers were surprised to discover this week that, without notice, under their noses, an agreement was signed with the European Union that could have very significant implications for the State of Israel vis-a-vis the PA, B’Sheva revealed this morning, Thursday.
This is an agreement called the “Transboundary Cooperation Program in the Mediterranean Basin” and is aimed at financing projects costing tens of millions of euros for 14 non-EU countries in the Middle East, including Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which is also defined as a political entity.
The agreement includes, inter alia, a clause stating that for Israel, the agreement does not apply beyond the Green Line, in eastern Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights. In the areas under the Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, it applies without any qualifications. In other words, Israeli entities in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights will not be able to participate in the projects and receive funding. The PA is enjoying a privilege here that no previous agreement has given it: it will not only be responsible for projects in the Palestinian Authority, but will be able to seek support for projects in the areas that, according to the Oslo Accords and other agreements, are under Israeli sovereignty. These include Area C, which is certainly under Israeli control and eastern Jerusalem – where the Palestinian Authority has no legal status and, therefore, should not have a foothold as a decision-maker.
What kind of projects does the PA want to implement within the framework of this agreement with the EU? For example, the PA wants the EU to invest in a project that promotes the “Palestinian heritage” of Sebastia, one of the places where Israel has actually consolidated its control in recent years. Another project on the agenda of the Palestinian Authority is activity at one of the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, a place that is, by all accounts, under Israeli sovereignty. A long list of projects aimed at undermining Jewish heritage and the State of Israel is on the PA’s agenda.
How did this happen? How was such an agreement approved without any significant protest? The story of the approval of this agreement begins on December 13. All government ministers received a request to approve the agreement, stating that “in accordance with sections 10 and 19 (b) of the government’s work regulations, if no reservation is filed within a week, it will acquire the force of a government decision.”
…Minister Miri Regev, who understood that the proposal was at the very least problematic and required amendments, exercised her right and submitted a reservation. It was in headlines for a day, and some of the cabinet ministers who understood what was happening did not bother to present reservations of their own – because they relied on Regev’s.
On Monday, some ministers were surprised to hear from the cabinet secretary that the decision had been approved. These were ministers who wanted to hold a discussion on the plan at the upcoming cabinet meeting because of the inherent problems with it. The Cabinet Secretary made it clear to the ministers that asked him about the matter that Regev’s reservations were recorded as opposition to the decision – and in fact as a vote against.
Because Regev did not explicitly request an additional hearing, however, the automatic approval of the agreement came into force. Other ministers who had counted on Regev’s opposition were left with a decision that not a few had wanted to oppose or work to amend, but who missed the train, each for his own reasons…”
On March 3, 2019 Regavim reported “Powered by massive European Union financial support, the Palestinian Authority is undertaking a systematic plan to seize strategically-positioned agricultural land in Area C of the West Bank covering tens of thousands of dunams in areas under full Israeli jurisdiction, creating irreversible facts on the ground. Large-scale planting, creation of irrigation systems, and a network of illegal roads are carving up the open spaces in Judea and Samaria and drawing the borders of a de facto Palestinian state in flagrant violation of the law.
The Union of Agricultural Work Committees, a quasi-official body with clear organizational ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), is funded, for the most part, by foreign governments, the EU, and humanitarian aid organizations. It has been instrumental in seizing 150,000 dunams in Area C – most of which are now being cultivated for the first time and have never been in private Arab hands.”
The EU supports a full Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria without explaining how Israel would defend itself if it did so. It would be suicidal for Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria as long as the Palestinians continue supporting Hamas, a terrorist organization that rejects the two state solution and is committed to the destruction of the Jewish State.
By allowing EU sponsored Palestinian takeover of Area C the civil administration is endangering the rest of Israel because Hamas can take advantage of the territorial expansion to attack Israel from Judea and Samaria as they did from Gaza making life in the rest of Israel unbearable.
The Palestinian Media Watch translated an interview by one of Hamas founders Mahmoud al-Zahar to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam in which he said “transfer what it has [in Gaza] or just a small part of it to the West Bank, we would be able to settle the battle of the ‘final promise [to destroy Israel] with a speed that no one can imagine…[Some] have said Hamas wants to create an Islamic emirate in Gaza. We won’t do that, but we will build an Islamic state in Palestine, all of Palestine…”
Israel allows the EU to sponsor projects in Judea and Samaria to maintain good diplomatic and commercial relations with the European block but are good relations with the EU worth it if the price to pay is surrendering strategic land that is key for Israel’s survival?
Ezequiel Doiny is author of “Obama’s assault on Jerusalem’s Western Wall”