On May 25, a new report on the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians will be presented to the United Nations (UN). This report, produced by the Middle East Quartet — a group consisting of representatives from the United States, the European Union (EU), Russian, and the UN — claims that it will focus on both what it feels is to blame for the current stagnation in the peace process, as well as what can be done to facilitate its resumption.
Piggybacking off the report, France announced plans to convene an international conference on the conflict in Paris this summer. Representatives from the Middle East Quartet, the Arab League, as well as other foreign ministries will be there. However, notably missing from this conference — aimed at solving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis – will be the Israelis and Palestinians.
Unfortunately, it is likely that this report and the subsequent conference, will not discuss the persistent, illegal building going on in the region.
For years, illegal settlements have been built in Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank. These settlements are being built using the tax dollars of hard working European’s in opposition to international law. In addition, who is building these settlements? The European Union.
Europe is consistently showing themselves to be a complete failure as a unbiased arbiter for peace as they undermine Jewish civil rights in the West Bank by both making up international law to suit their whims, as well as working to subvert the legally binding peace agreements, signed in their own backyard and to which the EU is a signatory.
The Oslo Peace Process — while deeply flawed and most likely an untenable pipedream — is still the legally binding set of agreements determining sovereign control of Judea and Samaria under international law.
These agreements separate the West Bank into three administrative divisions: the Areas A, B and C. Area A is under full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Area B is under PA civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control and Area C is under full Israeli control.
The EU, in violation of Israeli sovereignty is meddling in a territorial dispute by illegally building hundreds of settlements in locations designated under Israeli sovereignty under Oslo. Areas such as Adumim; a rural area surrounding the city of Maale Adumim has seen the establishment of hundreds of illegal EU buildings.
EU ministers justify their breech of international law by arguing that Area C is “part of the occupied Palestinian territory.” However, the rules of sovereignty under International law, clearly forbids a nation or group of nations from intervening in the domestic or foreign matters of another country, in a manner that would harm that country’s sovereignty.
Not only is the EU illegally build in Area C, despite Israel’s legitimate legal claim of sovereignty, it is expected that the Quartet’s report will be harshly critical of Jewish peoples sovereign right to build and live in that area.
The State of Israel holds legitimate claim of sovereignty over the West Bank. The territory, prior to 1967, was never under the accepted sovereignty of a High Contracting Party. Prior to Israel’s acquisition of the territory, the last legal sovereign with legal stewardship over the territories was that of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, which mandated the land for the Jewish people, in recognition of their historic connection to the land.
Moreover, even if we were to take the EU’s approach and view the West Bank as “occupied territory,” International Law clearly states that the occupying power has lawful administrative authority within the occupied areas and all actors in the region are obligated to obey the laws in effect there. The EU’s violation of zoning and building laws that are in effect in the area are a gross violation of international law and Israel’s sovereign governance of the region.
The Quartets report is also expected to boost Palestinian plans to secure a UN Security Council resolution condemning the settlements and setting a timetable for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Additionally, France has stated that they will recognize unilateral Palestinian state declaration if peace talks fizzle.
Both of these actions are a material breach of the legally binding agreements signed by the Palestinians. Specifically, the Wye River Memorandum, negotiated in 1998, which holds that neither side should initiate or take step to change the internationally recognized status of the region.
The EU and other powers attending the upcoming peace summit have a long history bias against Israel and the Jews. The UN’s obsession with Israel borders on the deranged. Just recently, France and Russia supported the downgrading of Jewish connection to Jerusalem at the UN by voting in favor of a UNESCO resolution that sought to erasing Jewish ties to Temple Mount.
We must stop relying on European peace initiatives between Israel and its neighbors. They are unable to abide by their legally binding agreements and have proven themselves incapable of being unbiased arbiters in the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Alex VanNess is the director of the Center for Security Policy’s Middle East Peace and Security Project.