The European Union has condemned the Israeli policy aimed at forcibly displacing Palestinians from their lands, especially in Area C [of the West Bank, defined by the Oslo Accords as those areas under direct Israeli Government control], and [generally] reducing their presence. This comes as a serious step on part of the EU to prevent Israel's expansion and colonization policy. The Israeli settlement boom and demolition of houses is a blatant infringement of all international conventions and human rights, and shuts the door on a two-state solution based on 1967 borders.
Upon the demands of Palestine, Jordan and the Arab world, the EU has taken such a step. This indicates the seriousness of the situation in Area C, which is threatened with [Palestinian] extinction because of Israel’s fascistic and racist policies. The area of the West Bank under the control of the Jewish State amounts to 62% of the [territory], [and in this area] Palestinians are being forced to leave their homes. These Israeli policies are preventing the Quartet and the UN from finding solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict in general, and to the Palestinian question in particular.
The report denouncing Israel's policies in Palestinian lands was authored and approved by the countries of the EU in Brussels. It is considered a step forward in the approach of the European nations, which have turned a blind eye to Israel's atrocious role in [the Palestinian territories] and in other lands it has occupied since 1967. The report is also seen as making headway in dealing with Israeli violations and provocations, and the surge of ethnic cleansing in Area C.
The West Bank sector known as Area C includes 124 Jewish settlements, which are illegal under international law. The sector is under direct Israeli control. It includes the territory's most fertile land and is rich in resources.
However, the report must be implemented immediately. It should not be left on the shelf among the EU and UN's international files, as is the case with [UNSC] Resolutions 242 and 338 concerning the restoration of the territories occupied in 1967.
Arab and foreign diplomats welcomed the 16-page-long report and considered it one of the EU’s most strict reports against the [insidious] demolition of homes and farms; the ongoing colonization, which goes beyond the military separation barrier; and the restrictions on freedom of movement and access to natural resources, including water and land.
The significance of this report also lies in the fact that it was issued by the EU itself, [because] previously the European countries questioned the credibility of Arab-issued reports on Israel’s provocative actions and the decisions of the Palestinian Authority in this regard.
In Area C, the Israeli settler population has risen dramatically to 310,000, while the number of Palestinians has fallen to 150,000, according to the report. Back in 1967, the number of Palestinians living in the agriculture-rich Jordan Valley region was between 200,000 and 320,000, the report said.
The report also coincided with the conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations held by former Senator and US envoy, George Mitchell. The conference took place in Washington, where Mitchell blamed the Zionist Authority for stalling peace talks.
President Obama must also take part of the blame for the failure of negotiations. Obama has always been a strong ally to Israel, promoting its occupation and rejecting the establishment of an independent sovereign Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital, within 1967 borders. Obama's administration also refuses the exchange of lands, with serious consequences [for the Palestinians] - especially as they come under demographic threat [in the Occupied Territories].
One can only wish that it was Mitchell himself who warned Israel [against its policies in Palestine] when he led the negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. His good offices, which lasted about three years, failed to generate any positive results toward end the crisis. Blair, head of the international Quartet, was no different. Ten years after the establishment of the Quartet, Blair has managed this year to show some significant activity on the Palestinian question. However the Quartet's previous efforts have always come up against Israeli rejection and US and European support for [Israel’s] policies, which [together] have utterly blocked the peace process.
The European report will not fulfill the hopes and aspirations of Palestinians unless it is implemented alongside the necessary security measures to put an end to the Israeli violations in Area C and in all the occupied Arab territories. Israel has also rejected all previous European demands to halt its settlements, not to mention the futile Israeli-Palestinian talks convened more than once in Amman, scheduled to meet yet again under the auspices of the Quartet on January 24. These talks are nothing but American attempts, at the end of Obama's term of office, to push negotiations forward, so as to avoid January 26, the date which the Quartet has set [for Israel to submit its proposed terms for new border and security arrangements in the West Bank].
Israel and the EU fear that January 26 will be a return to the focus and re-mobilization of the popular resistance and the international political movement to corner Israel in international organizations, after it finally succeeded in becoming a full member of UNESCO.
The European actions come as a new support for Arab efforts, especially those led by Jordanian King Abdullah II, to defend Palestine and to strive to establish a Palestinian State. All Arab countries must join their voices to these efforts and emphasize the two-state solution, especially now that all indications suggest that Israel will be internationally condemned for its ongoing settlement projects, [Palestinian] displacement policy and its attempt to Judaize Jerusalem. Israel has come to the end of the road, despite the support of the US and other European countries that seek to distract the world by focusing on Iran’s nuclear program and its threats to close the Strait of Hormuz!
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