In a confidential report sent to Brussels this week, some EU diplomats urge the European Commission to consider drafting a legislation in order to ensure that financial transactions by EU members do not support Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.(map from bbcimg.co.uk)
According to the report, which was leaked to the BBC, a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is undermined by “the systematic increase in settlement activity”.
The text also talks about a “deteriorating situation on the ground”.
Israeli policies have also been criticised in earlier reports.
The EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem makes a long list of recommendations, including a suggestion that the Commission proposes “appropriate EU legislation to prevent/discourage financial transactions in support of settlement activity”.
Israel is “actively perpetuating its annexation” of Arab East Jerusalem by “systematically undermining the Palestinian presence in the city”, said the EU report.
The document also talks about the problems generated by “the continued expansion of settlements, restrictive zoning and planning, ongoing demolitions and evictions, an inequitable education policy, difficult access to health care, the inadequate provision of resources and investment and the precarious residency issue”.
Since 1967, Israel has settled nearly 500,000 Jews in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlements are considered illegal under international law, but Israel disputes this.
While the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future state, Israel says Jerusalem will remain its undivided capital.
As the report has not been published, Palestinian officials do not want to comment it. But speaking on condition of anonymity, one told the BBC : “We think it shows facts on the ground that nobody can dispute. We now expect European capitals to implement the recommendations.”
According to Yigal Palmor, Israeli foreign ministry’s spokesman, the report is “the result of an extremely dubious methodology” because there hade been no consultation with Israel on the subject.
“The EU treats these serial reports in the best possible way – they are discussed briefly, their absurd recommendations are disregarded and the reports are quickly shelved,” he added.
In recent days, several strongly-worded European statements and reports have come to light.
On Monday settlements were described by Nick Clegg, UK’s deputy prime minister, as “an act of deliberate vandalism to the basic premise upon which negotiations have taken place for years”.
In response, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, who is visiting the UK, said Mr Clegg’s comments were “ill-informed” and “irresponsible” because they gave the Palestinians an excuse to set pre-conditions on negotiations with Israel on a peace settlement.
Last week an internal EU report was leaked. It criticised Israel’s policies and planning rules in “Area C”, meaning the 62% of the West Bank which is under its full control.
Also in a French parliamentary report, Israel’s water policies in the occupied Palestinian territories was described as a form of “apartheid”, because they give preferential treatment to Jewish settlers. The head of the Palestinian Water Authority welcomed these comments.