Monday, September 16, 2013

Letter to UK Parliamentary Representative

The letter below from a correspondent in the UK to his parliamentary representative, sets out clearly the utter hypocrisy in the EU in basically defining Israel's future borders without any negotiation as set out in the Oslo accords.

With interference in the negotiations currently taking place, why should the Palestinians negotiate?

As a voter in your EU London constituency, I want to draw your attention to the imminent danger of  the EU attempting to shackle Israel's participation in Horizon 2020, the $80 billion EU research funding programme.

As Dore Gold, the eminent Israeli diplomat, has pointed out : quite apart from the disastrous effects for the sizeable Palestinian workforce and for the Peace process, this motion makes the EU appear not just biased, but hypocritical.

I quote :  "the new trend in Israeli-European relations is particularly outrageous because it is built on the establishment of a clear double standard. Take EU policy on Morocco.

In 2005, the EU and Morocco signed an international agreement allowing European fishermen to operate in Moroccan waters. Did the agreement apply to the territorial waters of Western Sahara, which was claimed by Morocco, but not recognized as Moroccan territory by the international community, including the states of the EU ?  In 1975, the International Court of Justice in The Hague determined that Morocco did not have sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Yet, in the EU-Moroccan fishing agreement, there is a provision allowing European fishermen to operate in the waters of Western Sahara. Fishing is a lucrative business. Morocco stands to gain at least 40 million euros in annual fishing fees. All funds from European fishermen have been going to Morocco.

Hans Correll, the former legal adviser to the U.N., attacked EU officials for allowing such an agreement. What makes the Moroccan case glaring is the fact that the latest EU guidelines on Israel explicitly state that "their aim is to ensure respect of EU positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the EU of Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967." But in the case of Morocco, the EU is not applying this standard, but is going ahead with an agreement, regardless of how it views the question of sovereignty in Western Sahara.

{Again,} while the EU strenuously objects to supporting any Israeli presence in the West Bank because of its legal status, it nonetheless allows European citizens to purchase beachfront vacation homes in the territory of Northern Cyprus that was occupied by Turkey in 1974. No punitive measures have been contemplated against Turkey because of conflict over the future status of this disputed territory. Europe supports a resolution of the Cyprus problem, without using the same economic levers it is employing in the Israeli case.

An analysis of the European Union's negotiations with India over a Free Trade Agreement also shows that there is no demand to say that it will only apply to territories in which India's sovereignty is not disputed. The EU has encouraged India and Pakistan to resolve their dispute over Kashmir. A study by a Pakistani legal scholar of the EU-Indian trade negotiations points out that previously concluded free trade agreements with other countries "do not impose binding conditions in respect of particular geopolitical disputes". True, the EU has employed economic sanctions against rogue states like Iran and North Korea. But it does not use economic leverage against friendly countries engaged in territorial disputes.

Looking at how the EU treats other territorial disputes, Israel has good reasons to be enraged with EU policy. The EU went ahead and issued this new policy just as Israel was making tough concessions, including the release of convicted Palestinian prisoners, to set the stage for new peace talks. Both the substance and the timing of what the Europeans were doing drew bitter criticism across much of the Israeli political spectrum, and the move is likely to have a long-term impact on Israeli-European relations.

But Israel does have hopes for something better. An adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel told The Jerusalem Post last month that European cooperation with Israel in research and development in the EU's Horizon 2020 program is a European interest and not just an Israeli interest.

The background to the EU's program with Israel is the need for Europe to improve its global competitiveness and increase jobs and economic growth on the continent after years of sluggish growth. The Horizon 2020 program is not a European handout to Israel, but a joint initiative by which Israel puts up funds by itself and receives 1.6 euros for joint research and development for every euro it puts in.

Because of its scientific prowess, Israel is the only non-European country to have been invited to take part in this program. The Europeans knew what they were doing in inviting Israel. Economists recognize that knowledge-based industries are the fastest-growing portion of the global economy, and serve as engines for economic growth. These are precisely the technological fields in which Israel leads, and which Europe needs. In their book  Start-Up Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer quote an American high-tech executive who admits that for companies like Google, Microsoft, and Intel, "the best-kept secret is that we all live and die by the work of our Israeli teams."

Europe and Israel both benefit from this cooperation and both have much to lose by its politicization by EU bureaucrats in Brussels.

Then there is the issue of Israel's offshore gas fields. Europe presently imports most of its gas from Russia and from North Africa. David Wurmser used to serve as a Middle East expert for the U.S. vice president's office and later advised Noble Energy, which is involved in Israeli gas exploration. He points out in a paper for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that there are today five existing or planned pipelines connecting Europe with the gas of North Africa. Four of the pipelines come through Algeria, which is facing growing threats from al-Qaida affiliates. Elsewhere in the Middle East, as in Sinai, they have shown their readiness to sabotage such pipelines. Having another source of gas from Israel could be critical for Europe, if some of its current energy sources become unreliable or even unavailable.

Wurmser concludes that Israel may make Asia its preferred export destination, and not Europe. This is a decision Israel will have to make as it decides how to build its energy infrastructure. If Europe begins to present itself as an unreliable trading partner, many more Israeli statesmen will adopt the idea of making Asia into Israel's preferred market for its gas exports.

Israel and the EU need to get past this problematic period in their relationship. A great deal is at stake for both sides.

Finally, a purely practical point. The osmosis between Israel and the West Bank is vital for the Palestinians. The economy of the West Bank is almost wholly reliant on Israeli willingness to employ Palestinian workers. This week, Israel issued a further 5,000 work permits to West Bank Arabs to work in Israel, where 35,000 already work legally, and maybe as many more without permits. This means that some 300,000 Palestinian men, women and children depend on well-paid work in Israel. And in the West Bank, the Palestinians not lucky enough to have non-jobs with UNWRA or the P.A. kleptocracy have no source of earnings to approach what they earn working in the settlements. If the EU strangle the Jewish settlements, it will be Arab children who starve.

Please urge your colleagues to think again.

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