The European Union presents itself as an honest broker in the Middle East. In reality, the 27 governments are engaged in a long process of accommodating Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
A recent agreement for ‘more intense, more fruitful, more influential co-operation’ between the EU and Israel means that Israel has become a member state of the Union in all but name. Rather than using this relationship to encourage Israeli restraint, the EU has legitimised actions such as the ill treatment of prisoners and the Gaza invasion.
EU has failed to hold Israel to account for its war crimes. The investigation carried out by a UN-appointed team led by Richard Goldstone into the conduct of Israel’s war on Gaza was as thorough as was possible under the circumstances. But when the 575-page it produces is discussed by the UN’s General Assembly in November 2009, 22 of the EU’s 27 countries refuse to endorse it.
Israeli arms companies have become eligible for EU funding. With Israel the main external participant in the Union’s “framework programme” for scientific research, the EU has become the second largest source of research grants for the country. Tel Aviv-based officials predict that Israel’s participation in the multi-annual programme, which went into operation in 2007, will be worth €500 million by the time it concludes in 2013.
The beneficiaries of these grants include Motorola Israel. Motorola is taking part in a EU-financed surveillance project known as iDetect4All, which uses sensors to detect intruders of buildings or resources of high economic value. The concept behind iDetect4All is similar to that behind a radar system that Motorola has installed in 47 Israeli settlements in the West Bank over the past five years. The Jerusalem Post describes the system as a “virtual fence” that uses thermal cameras to pinpoint people who are not authorised to enter the settlements.
The well-oiled propaganda machine has helped convince policy-makers that Israel should be viewed as something akin to a Mediterranean Canada, a “normal” industrialised country with many similarities to Europe. But Israel is not a normal country; it is one that illegally occupies the land of another people.
The EU’s ever-deepening relationship with Israel cannot be divorced from the brutality meted out on daily basis to the Palestinians. The deeper that relationship gets, the more that Europe will be accommodating the oppression of Palestine.
Patrick Mac Manus
David Cronin is the Brussels correspondent of Inter Press Service news agency. Born in Dublin in 1971, he wrote for a variety of Irish publications before moving to Belgium in 1995. After working as a research assistant and press officer in the European parliament, he became the European correspondent with The Sunday Tribune, Dublin, in 1998. He then worked as political correspondent for European Voice, a weekly newspaper owned by The Economist, from 2001 until 2006.
On the same subject, see also:
“How Israeli arms companies benefit from European Union science funds”, by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 7 December, 2009.