The Europeans Don’t Really Care About the Palestinians Either

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Palestinian PM Mohammed Shtayyeh and EU representative in the West Bank and Gaza Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff in Khirbet Humsa, this month.
Palestinian PM Mohammed Shtayyeh and EU representative in the West Bank and Gaza Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff in Khirbet Humsa, this month.Credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND - AFP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The sloth of the European Union has once again been revealed in all its shame. The EU is good at giving the Palestinians charity and preaching about the rule of law. It fails politically when it comes to stopping Israel’s plans to concentrate the Palestinians into reservations in the West Bank and clear most of the land for Jews.

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Where will the EU be when the supporters of Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir and the erudite proponent of transfer Bezalel Smotrich get even stronger – as seems likely given the anti-Arab attitudes of Haredi and so-called religious Zionist teens in Israel? What will it do when they carry out their threats to expel Palestinians “disloyal to Israel” beyond the borders of the “Greater Land of Israel”? Will it send its aid organizations to hand out tents and teach the Palestinians about hygiene in desert conditions?

On Monday, for the fifth time this year and the sixth since November, Israeli Civil Administration and army forces razed and seized structures in Khirbet Humsa, in the northern Jordan Valley. Their plunder this time: 17 tents, five of which served as animal pens, seven open pens, four water tanks and a few tents that hadn’t yet been pitched. Israel wants the entire community to move to the west, to a reservation allocated to it – ostensibly so the army can train in the area, but as the experience of over 73 years teaches, it’s to make more room for Jews, in this case the settlements of Ro’i and Bekaot on either side of Humsa. Many of the structures that were destroyed/ confiscated were donated by European states, whose representatives have even visited the site three times.

The Office of the EU Representative in Jerusalem has already said that this is a forcible transfer that violates international law, like ones carried out and planned for the future in the southern West Bank. Like those executed daily by the privatized arms of the military and the Civil Administration – those proliferating outposts resembling ranches of armed and violent cowboys, behind which stands the Amana dispossession movement. Amana’s eternal director, Ze'ev Hever, confirmed Sunday what has long been clear to every Ta’ayush and Machsom Watch activist: In terms of stealing land from Palestinians and promoting expulsions, these ranches are more effective than construction in the settlements.

EU West Bank and Gaza representative Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff talks to a resident of Khirbet Humsa this month.Credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS

Israel’s reservations plan is known and is contrary to Europe’s official policy, and over the past decade it has been expedited openly and shamelessly. The European failure to stop it has nothing to do with the coronavirus crisis, some internal weakness or disagreements between Hungary and France. It testifies to the fundamental apathy of Europe, whose 19th-century colonialism is alive and kicking in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. After all, the Palestinians’ international position, unlike Israel’s, is very weak; they have no superpower or great economic force with teeth standing behind them.

The Israeli Jews of north Tel Aviv, for example, or of Dimona or Mishmar Ha’emek, don’t care that every day their army, their friends and relatives and they themselves are carrying out some small transfer, guaranteeing with their cannons that the Gaza reservation remains isolated and cut off. How do we know? Look at the news shows, see which posts are popular on social media and note how few Israelis support the Palestinians against their predators. But that’s precisely why we have international law, human rights conventions, historical research and European apologies for the crimes of the past – in order to prevent new catastrophes, the products of human action, politics and economic interests.

Only painful political and economic sanctions imposed by Europe will teach the Israeli Jewish public that it cannot have the best of both worlds: to receive unconditional support as “the eternal collective victim and survivor” of the expulsion and genocide project carried out in Europe in the 1930s and ‘40s, while also engineering an expulsion and dispossession project that seems to have no end.

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