EU blasts Israel for exclusive claim to Jerusalem

EU representative to the Palestinian Authority Christian Berger signs an agreement with UNRWA Commissioner-General Vleopo Grande worth 40 million euros during a visit to the village of Walaja near Bethlehem last year. (Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—European Union diplomats have condemned Israel for “systematically undermining the Palestinian presence” in Jerusalem and making the city “increasingly unlikely and unworkable” as the shared capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

According to reports Wednesday in two British dailies, The Independent and The Guardian, a report drafted by EU heads of missions echoed recently Palestinian charges that Israel is seeking to “Judaize” the 3,000-year-old capital of the Jewish people.

The report, which was drafted by EU representatives in Jerusalem and Ramallah, accuses Israel of seeking to “emphasize the Jewish identity of the [capital] city, at the expense of its Muslim and Christian residents.” The reason for this, according to The Independent, is because of Israel’s desire to annex east Jerusalem.

Similarly, The Guardian reports that the EU document concludes that the situation is “deteriorating” and cautions that “the systematic increase in settlement activity… increasingly undermines the two-state solution.”

The report was approved by EU diplomats on Friday and sent to Brussels on Monday, according to The Guardian. It calls for the EU to discourage European companies from trading in products produced by Israeli settlements in the West Bank and possibly barring settlers considered to be violent from EU countries.

The report also decries what it states are disparities in resource allocation to Jerusalem’s Jewish and Arab residents. According to the Independent, the report states that Palestinians represent 37 percent of Jerusalem’s population but receive only 10% of the city’s resources.

The report on Jerusalem followed a similar internal EU report on Area C of the West Bank released last week. The Independent reported then that the EU said a range of Israeli actions in the West Bank “undermines the area’s Palestinian population,” thereby contributing to the “closing [of] the window” for reaching a two-state solution.

Israeli diplomatic sources downplayed the earlier EU report on the West Bank.

“At a certain point, the Europeans are going to have to engage Israel, and not only the Palestinians, when they write these reports,” one Israeli source said. “It’s as if Israel does not exist, does not have its own version of events, reality, reasons, policy, or policy-making process.”

The source slammed the EU report, saying it will make the Europeans “feel good about themselves” but have no affect on the ground. The source also criticized the authors of the report for not turning to Jerusalem for any input.