Among our Lamentations this week was the news on Tisha b’Av that the European Union would cease all funding and cooperation with Israeli activity beyond the Green Line (1967 borders). This diplomatic and economic ostracism includes not only the entirety of the West Bank but even the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem — the place, of course, of the Temple Mount and Kotel, our holiest sites.
Jewish Jerusalem has a history more than 1,000 years old, except for the 19-year (1948-1967) removal of Jews by the Jordanians that left the Jewish Quarter without Jews until their return after the Six-Day War. This history may be obvious, but for the EU to assert that Jewish Jerusalem is nothing but an illegal post-1967 “occupation” is an act not only of feigned historical amnesia but a cynical interference with a weakened peace process that is already too delicate and fragile as is.
Jews have lived in the West Bank, the heart of biblical Israel, for several millennia, as well; exiled by the Jordanian army in 1948, returning after the 1967 war. While it is advisable and inevitable for Israel to negotiate the future of this land with the Palestinians, for the EU to unilaterally decide, in lieu of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, that Israel is an outlaw occupant and not an equal party in these negotiations is more punishment than incentive.
Lest historical amnesia completely overtake us, let us remind ourselves that Israel has, for the last 46 years, been willing to negotiate everything, including settlements, without preconditions; it has been the Palestinians (or their representatives) who have refused. For the EU to take measures against Israel, while imposing no similar pressure on the Palestinians, is to only encourage those in Israel who see the peace process as less about peace than an imposed surrender.
Others, such as the Anti-Defamation League, have wondered about the EU’s selective outrage, when EU support for the Palestinians has never been conditioned on their willingness to negotiate an end to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in the Palestinian media. To be seen as unbiased participants in the peace process, said the ADL correctly, “the EU must end its longstanding habit of not holding the Palestinian Authority responsible for its actions and inactions that are unequivocally obstacles to peace.”