To begin with, last week, it was revealed that Israel had revoked the Jerusalem residency rights of over 4,500 Palestinians in 2008, mainly because it claimed that they had been absent from the city for more than the allowed seven years (had this happened anywhere else in the world, we would’ve called it ethnic cleansing). Then came a late November report from the EU, charging Israel with essentially illegally annexing East Jerusalem by demolishing Palestinian homes (which it does), supporting the expansion of Israeli settlers in the city (which it does) and making it virtually impossible for Palestinians to build legally on their own land (which it has). And then Sweden decided to make use of its EU presidency and show the world that Europe still had some teeth by producing a “strongly-worded” document “calling” on East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. But naturally, it didn’t take long for the Europeans to realize they no longer have the power they thought they still possessed:
Israel expressed satisfaction on Tuesday that the European Union did not accept a Swedish proposal to explicitly recognize Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Adopting a softer formula, the unionâ€™s Foreign Affairs Council said in a statement that â€œa way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.â€ [New York Times]
Oh Europe, could you know less about the realities of Jerusalem post 1967? Let the Israelis refresh your memory…
Intensifying calls from both the European Union and the Palestinian Authority that east Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of a future Palestinian state hold little if any practical weight, according to Brig. Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom, a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies and an expert on Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Brom told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that such calls, including Tuesday’s passing of a European Union resolution to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state, were “purely political” and had few additional implications.
“The whole [idea of recognizing east Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital outside the framework of negotiations with Israel] is just political,” Brom said. “It has no other meaning except that an important part of the West, namely the Europeans, think that this is what should be done. There are no practical implications.” Additionally, Brom said, given the fact that Israeli control extends over the entirety of the city, there was little the Palestinians could do unilaterally to even lay the groundwork for such a move.
“I don’t see how a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state [and therefore Palestinian control over east Jerusalem] is physically possible,” Brom said. “In fact, it’s impossible. Israel controls all of Jerusalem, so [the Palestinians] can’t really do anything on their own to move closer to that.” [JPost]
But forget about Jerusalem, there’s a bigger problem to deal with.
In reference to the original Swedish draft…
Israel was also incensed that the statement, for the first time, referred to the Palestinian Authority as “Palestine,” and that it did not give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu even the slightest pat on the back for his declaration of a moratorium on housing starts in the settlements.
…The final draft replaces “Palestine” with “the Palestinian Authority,” something of no little significance in Israeli eyes. [JPost]
Oh, and then there’s this charmer on the settlement “freezes”…
…regarding the moratorium, what the Swedes proposed was a paragraph that would read only that “The Council takes note of the recent decision of the government of Israel on a partial and temporary settlement freeze and expressed the hope that it will become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations.”
This was replaced by a clause which has a much more positive ring to it: “Encouraging further concrete confidence-building measures, the Council takes positive note of the recent decision of the Government of Israel on a partial and temporary settlement freeze as a first step in the right direction and hopes that it will contribute towards a resumption of meaningful negotiations.”[JPost]
So. No Jerusalem. No East Jerusalem. Hardly much of the West Bank with all those checkpoints and walls. No Jordan Valley. And Gaza, well, the Israelis saw to that too.
What’s left to negotiate?
Of course the Jordanian government’s take on all this was the conventional disgustingly congratulatory tone. Perhaps the only thing worse than the EU’s apparent lack of teeth is Jordan’s consistently toothless posturing. To say nothing of the rest of the Arab world.
I don’t even know what to call an injustice that just keeps growing and growing to unprecedented heights.
There’s really no word for it.