Tuesday, December 19, 2017

European Parliament event: propaganda-based advocacy for Israel’s isolation

Via NGO Monitor:
On November 27, 2017, the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPal) held a conference, “Fifty Years of Occupation and Counting: Is it time for a new EU Policy on the Middle East Peace Process?” The conference featured politicians, academics, and NGO officials advocating Israel’s isolation and calling on the European Union and other countries to increase international pressure and to impose sanctions on Israel. None of the speakers advocated for dialogue and/or negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

A number of speakers – namely Michael Lynk, Valentina Azarova, and Hugh Lovatt – joined in a concerted effort to advocate sanctions against Israel based on the pseudo-legal argument that it is an “illegal occupant.” Several speakers additionally promoted false allegations and libelous claims against Israel that went entirely unchallenged.

From Differentiation to Sanctions

Michael Lynk, current “United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,”1 presented his latest report, which “considers whether Israel’s role as an entrenched and defiant occupant of the Palestinian territory has now reached the point of illegality under international law” (p. 7). Lynk admitted in his presentation that “International Humanitarian Law, the main documents and instruments, does not provide a clear answer with respect to that” (17:28:00).

However, in support of his contention that there is reasonable legal ground to declare Israel an “illegal occupant,” Lynk, who is self-reportedly “not an international lawyer… by profession,” purports to have “come up with four main principles that we can deduce from International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law… to determine whether or not the occupant has become an illegal occupant.” He concludes that “Israel has violated in the course of its 50 years of occupying the Palestinian territory, all four of these” (17:40:02).

Following his presentation, MEP Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA) addressed a comment to Lynk,
As far as I could hear, you went further then we here in the parliament has (sic) done up till now, saying the differentiation strategy should be the one we could call for, and every time Israel accuses us to go for the BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions]… they use all means to try to push us into this basket, then you paved the road to go into that basket! By saying that now, as Israel being an illegal occupant, we should really put sanctions on Israel, not only this differentiation (18:22:10, emphases added).
In her comment, Auken was referring to “differentiation” policy, a motif introduced by British NGO European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR). ECFR uses this term to call for sanctions against Israeli entities (and certain individuals) that have activities in or apparent financial contacts with Israeli settlements, claiming that this does not constitute BDS. (Hugh Lovatt, Policy Fellow and Israel/Palestine Project Coordinator at ECFR, who “has worked extensively to advance the concept of ‘EU Differentiation’,” also spoke at the event). (...)

Finally, Bichara Khader, Professor Emeritus at the Catholic University of Louvain, stated that “aid should not be used to tame the Palestinian resistance” and urged “Europe” to “support the third Intifada, peaceful Intifada, which is the BDS campaign” (19:08:27, emphasis added).
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