Israel: the new settlements menace the relations with the US and EU

(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)

On the occasion of the speech at the UN, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the accusations of genocide, defining its army as the “most moral in the world”.

The recent decision to occupy the territory of East Jerusalem for the construction of about 2610 homes could put at risk the international relations of Israel. In fact, not only it is likely to create more distance from the American allies, but also by the European Union, both agreeing on the creation of two-State solution to the conflict that since 1948 is exhausting the Middle East.

The new housing plan, launched by the Netanyahu government, involves the development of a housing complex in Givat HaMatos, a predominantly Arab neighborhood, located beyond the 1967 Green Line. This decision comes just after the request of the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, for a resolution of the UN Security Council to be issued in November 2016, that would fix the term of the Israeli occupation beyond the borders established in 1967.

The reactions of the international community in the face of the housing project of Netanyahu were not long in coming. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, after the formal interview with the Israeli Prime Minister, did not hide his strong irritation and concern that this plan could put in danger the negotiations between the two parties in conflict.

The White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said that if Israel proceeded with these new developments, the direct consequence would be a departure from his “closest allies”.

As noted also by Israeli non-governmental peace movement Peace Now, it would be a severe blow to the ‘two-State solution’, since such a plan would divide the territorial continuity between Palestinian neighborhoods located to the South of Jerusalem (Beit Safafa and Shuafat) and the future Palestinian State.

Netanyahu argued that the American accusations should go against the US values ​​and the right of residents to live in any part of the city, and for this reason has claimed for the national sovereignty of Israel on the land and the right to apply it when building new homes in Jerusalem. In fact, East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel during the 1967 war and the whole city was annexed to the State of Israel in 1980 (a move never recognized by the international community).

Besides, the removal from the United States would add a greater international isolation due to criticism coming from the European Union, which agreed to a two-State solution. The organization, which is the largest provider of aid to the Palestinian population, has used mostly harsh tones, echoing the criticism already voiced individually by France and Germany.

This would then represent another act which harms the peace process and hinders the development of relations between the European Union and Israel. Although the European diplomacy has not clarified what actions could be taken in the event that the occupation continues, it is important to note that the stakes for Israel are very high.

The cooling of relations with the European Union would not only put at risk the $14 billion European funds to which Israel was declared eligible, but also provoke serious blow to the balance of payments: the European Union is, in fact, the main trading partner of the Jewish State.

The new advancement of Israel beyond the borders established in 1967, could also fuel a sense of de-legitimization of the Jewish State, as already emerged in many European countries since the resumption of hostilities against the Palestinians.

Claudia Conticello

Master’s degree in International Relations (LUISS “Guido Carli”)

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