by Thomas Rose
Even as details of the latest ISIS plot to behead innocents on the streets of London emerges, the machinery of the European Union’s massive bureaucracy is well along its plan to impose crippling economic and cultural sanctions on Israel if the Jewish state does not agree to unilaterally withdraw behind the 1949 Armistice lines.
The Times of Israel and other sources are now reporting that EU officials are preparing a far reaching list of sanctions that can be imposed against Israel whenever the EU’s political leadership decides to proceed with efforts to economically devastate the small but heavily trade-dependent Jewish state.
The essence and purpose of the plan, coming just weeks after the end of Hamas’ 50 day terror war against Israel, is not only to punish Israel economically but to deprive the small but vibrant democracy of its political legitimacy; something that the international community, including the EU, extends to virtually every other country on earth, including Cuba, North Korea, and Iran.
The revelations of the latest EU plans come on the heels of Sweden’s decision earlier this week to become the first sitting member of the 28 nation EU to recognize the so-called “State of Palestine.” Four Eastern European members of the EU voted to recognize “Palestine” in the 1980’s when they were Warsaw Pact puppet states firmly in the orbit of the former Soviet Union.
The latest “Israeli outrage” to which the EU and others, including US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, are taking such offense, is the announcement by the Israel Lands Authority to solicit private sector tenders for the construction of roughly 2600 apartment units slated to be built in Jerusalem’s burgeoning Givat Hamatos neighborhood. In fact, there is nothing at all new in these plans, which have long been a part of Jerusalem’s municipal development plan and were first announced more than three years ago.
In its statement accompanying its decision to recognize “Palestine,” the Swedish Foreign Ministry claims that Israel’s housing plans “represents a further highly detrimental step that undermines prospects for a two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
No mention was made in Sweden’s statement criticizing Israel of any recent Palestinian steps, such as Hamas‘ 50 day terrorist war against the Jewish state in which it launched more than 4000 rockets against civilian targets that it viewed as “detrimental steps that undermine prospects” for peace in the Middle East. Nor is there any apparent concern that stifling Israel’s economic development would first be felt by Palestinians first and most harshly, since their very growth and emergence as a people has always been inextricably linked to that of their Jewish neighbors.
Before the first group of Jewish settlers fleeing pogromist Russia arrived in Palestine in the late 19th century, the local Arab population living inside what is today Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, was estimated at the time to be no more than 200,000 with an average lifespan of less than 40 years.
Today, more than 5 million Arabs, with an average lifespan of 70.5 years, live either in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza. Of course, neither the increase in Palestinians per se, nor the length and health of their lives could have been possible without the emergence and development of Israel. Every previous effort that stunted Israel’s growth or impeded its development has resulted in economic dislocations far more devastating to Palestinians than to Israelis.
While strong pro-Israel support by the US Congress and among the American people prevents President Obama from imposing sanctions similar to those being drawn up by the EU now, the Obama administration has used its executive powers to develop a series of its own stealth punishments against the Middle East’s only democracy.
Just last May it was reported that with little fanfare the State Department suddenly and dramatically increase the number of Israeli tourist applications it would reject in order to prevent Israel from participating in the visa waiver program designed to expedite travel from allegedly US-friendly nations. There are currently 38 nations whose citizens do not need a visa to enter the US for short-term tourist or business travel. Until recently that list included Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.