“Be broken up, O you people, and be dismayed; and give ear all you far countries; gird yourselves and you shall be broken in pieces, gird yourselves and you shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together and it shall come to nothing; speak the word, and it shall not stand; for God is with us.” (Isaiah 8:9-10)
The European Union agreed to push through a new law labeling products made in Judea and Samaria in a move that has greatly angered Israel and is seen as a major win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), whose proposals frequently inform EU policy-making, published a report on Wednesday claiming that the EU is in violation of its own laws by not differentiating more actively away from companies and institutions that operate in “occupied Palestinian land.” The ECFR includes East Jerusalem as occupied territory with Judea and Samaria.
The report cites as a legal basis the European Commission guidelines from 2013, in which it states that the EU and member-state-funded lending cannot be provided to Israeli entities operating in Judea and Samaria.
EU diplomats have long said that labeling products is only the first step in financial actions that will be taken against Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria. When approved, the new proposal will create financial hardships for Israelis who have dealings with the EU or EU banks in the areas of banking, loans and mortgages, tax exemption status, visas for citizens of Israel who live in Judea and Samaria, qualifications earned in academic institutions such as Ariel University, and the tax-exempt status of European charities that deal with Israeli companies or organizations that have a presence in Judea and Samaria.
According to the report by ECFR, the main purpose of the new law is to push for a larger separation between the EU and any company or person associated with Judea and Samaria. The ECFR seeks to force Israel to reevaluate its relationship with the EU and to push Israel to adopt a two state solution.
The report also goes so far as to question whether the EU should be dealing with Israeli institutions, such as the Ministry of Justice and the national police headquarters, which are based in East Jerusalem.
Additionally, the EU and its member states have been heavily funding NGO’s whose primary aim is to internationally delegitimize Israel. According to Israeli Foreign Ministry estimates, these NGO’s, many of whom are located in Israel as well as in Judea and Samaria, receive between 100-200 million Euros annually.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzippi Hotovely (Likud) recently journeyed to meet foreign ministers from Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom. She demand that they take a closer look at the spending that their countries are doing to prevent these funds from being transferred to NGO’s that Israel has classified as anti-Semitic.
According to Hotovely, the financial assistance to anti-Israel NGO’s “support boycotts against Israel, blacken its face around the world, accuse it of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and war crimes; deprive the Jewish people of their right to self-determination, call to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and negate the right of return”.
Moreover, according the Israeli Foreign Ministry, some of the NGO’s actively support terrorist groups.
The organizations in question include: The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University, the Coalition of Women for Peace, Who Profits, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, Breaking the Silence, BADIL, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Alternative Information Center, Zochrot, the Applied Research Institute, and Terrestrial Jerusalem, NOVA a Spanish BDS organization, Yesh Din, Gisha, Bimkom, and No Legal Frontiers.