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Israel Calls European Nations Critical of Illegal Settlement Expansion “Irrelevant”

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Cross-posted from Tikkun Daily.

by David Harris-Gershon

Faced with Israel’s continued settlement expansion in the Palestinian territories, as well as Palestine’s statehood efforts at the U.N., European members of the U.N. Security Council released a joint statement Tuesday declaring the settlements as a principal obstacle to peace and illegal under international law.

The joint statement – made by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal – came after the UNSC’s closed-door meeting on the state of the Middle East, at which every member ( except for the United States) condemned both Israel’s continued settlement expansion as well as the increase in settler violence against Palestinians, including the repeated torching of mosques in the West Bank.

According to Haaretz, Israel’s Foreign Ministry angrily responded by not just delegitimizing the critiques, but by denigrating some of its strongest allies in Europe:

A statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that the EU members of the Security Council would be well advised to exert their efforts on resuming direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, instead of “interfering” in Israel’s internal affairs.

“If, instead of contributing to stability in the Middle East through these steps, they invest their efforts in inappropriate bickering with the one country where the independent law and justice system can handle lawbreakers of all kinds, they are bound to lose their credibility and make themselves irrelevant,” the statement said.

Of course, the biting irony here is the Foreign Ministry’s claim that Israel is “the one country where the independent law and justice system can handle lawbreakers of all kinds.” For the criticism being levied against Israel is specifically this: it is a country which continues to break international law by unilaterally appropriating and building upon Palestinian lands while suppressing the Palestinians’ multitudinous rights.

And one of those rights denied Palestinians is the very ability to protest the gross injustices they face, such as unilateral land acquisition by the State. As Noam Sheizaf succinctly and accurately wrote today in +972 Magazine:

Israel doesn’t allow any form of protest in the West Bank (well, except for settler protest). Military law demands IDF permission for any demonstration of more than 10 people. The IDF regularly declares the villages of Nabi Saleh, Bil’in and Ni’lin, where protests take place, as Closed Military Zones, and it charges Israelis who attempt to join those demonstrations with violating of this order. Palestinian protest organizers are tried for long prison terms in military courts.

The painful truth is that those lawbreakers Israel most often deals with these days in the West Bank are those Palestinians who attempt to protest the theft of their lands – protests that actually take place within their own villages, villages which are declared closed zones the moment citizens (often working families with their children) gather together for nonviolent rallies.

These are the criminals treated weekly to tear gas, skunk water and flash grenades.

So much for handling lawbreakers of all kinds.

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