Condemnations of Israeli occupation aren’t enough

Europeans, your denunciations are seen by Israel as lacking urgency. You must implement painful sanctions

Holland, Belgium and France: It’s not enough to condemn with just words the Israeli policy of destruction, which damages equipment and buildings funded with your taxpayers’ money. It’s good that you are angry, but the pace of the accumulation of your anger lags far behind the galloping and dangerous pace of the bulldozers of the Civil Administration in the West Bank and the Settlements Defense Forces.

The condemnations are seen as lacking urgency. You must take real actions. Yes, open and declared sanctions that have a path to becoming more severe. Painful sanctions. This may be the last chance to remove the average Israeli, including business people, tourists, judges, scholars, farmers and foreign soccer consumers from their indifference and criminal complacency.

Stop being afraid of Israeli emotional blackmail. Israel trades in the memory of our families murdered in Europe in order to speed up the expulsion of the Palestinians from the bulk of West Bank territory to the enclaves of the Palestinian Authority. This is the intention behind all the demolitions and confiscations and bans on construction, herding and field irrigation. Whoever plans and implements this small, gradual expulsion is already thinking about the big expulsion, to Jordan. And what will you do then? Issue condemnations and send water tankers and tents to those expelled?

On August 24, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders and Deputy Prime Minister and Development Cooperation Minister Alexander De Croo published an official condemnation of the confiscation of the trailers to be used for 1st through 4th grades in the Palestinian village of Jubbet Adh-Dhib, and the confiscation of solar panels for the school at the Bedouin encampment of Abu Nuwwar.

The Belgians noted they were among those who had funded that equipment. “[Belgium] will continue to work together with its partners, as in the past, to ask the Israeli authorities to end these demolitions,” says the Foreign Ministry statement.

One of the partners is The Netherlands, whose parliament has devoted time to discussing the Israeli demolition, more time than the Knesset has. Here is what Dutch cabinet ministers reported to Dutch members of parliament last month concerning the confiscation of the solar panels in Jubbet Adh-Dhib in June: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised in a letter to return the solar panels to Holland. (The Prime Minister’s Office spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the report.)

After the confiscation, the village was sentenced to only two hours of electricity a day, produced by a generator. In the last 20 years the village has submitted at least four requests to the Civil Administration to be connected to the electrical network, and all were turned down. Experience teaches that Israel does not, or hardly ever does, give permits for construction in Area C (which covers some 60 percent of the West Bank). The Dutch attempt to receive a permit from the Civil Administration for one project, a test case, did not lead to positive results. As an occupying force, Israel is forbidden to destroy and confiscate property except as a wartime necessity.

France, too, announced proudly that it was a partner in the humanitarian construction in Area C and Abu Nuwwar. France, too, condemned the latest demolitions and asked for the confiscated equipment to be returned. In six months Israel has demolished 259 Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, states the French condemnation. During the same period, the Israeli government approved the construction of over 10,000 housing units in the settlements – three times more than in all of last year.

So the destruction in Palestinian communities, the evacuation of the Shamasneh family from their home in Jerusalem and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s plans to demolish Sussia and Khan al-Akhmar are the other side of the coin of settlement construction.

This is how Israel carries out a gradual expulsion. Without sanctions, it can take a deep breath and its faith in its ability to implement the plan is solid. Who knows better than you, and especially your neighbor Germany, where plans for limited expulsion lead to, and what criminal mindset they construct in the society that plans it?