An article from last year on the Investigation.be platform depicts the circumstances preceding the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Palestine, and the plight of the Palestinians. The Euro-Palestinian Council for Political Relations (EUPAC), during its conference titled “75 Years of Continuing Nakba,” cautioned that this escalation could unfold as another chapter in the series of Israeli transgressions if they were not held accountable under international law.

(*) https://investigaction.net/lunion-europeenne-continue-de-soutenir-israel-dans-sa-meurtriere-oppression-des-palestiniens/(*)

Against a backdrop of worsening colonial conditions for the Palestinians, the European Palestinian Council (EUPAC) organised a conference in Brussels last week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba (“the catastrophe”). Ursula von der Leyen was also invited to this event… Unsurprisingly, she was conspicuous by her absence. With this empty chair policy, the President of the European Commission sent out a new signal of contempt for the Euro-Palestinians and for the future of Palestine. This is in keeping with the European authorities’ constant support for the apartheid state of Israel.

14 May 1948. Celebrated as “Independence Day” by the majority of Israelis, for the Palestinians this date is that of the “Nakba” (the catastrophe). In other words: the forced expulsion of several hundred thousand Palestinians, compounded by a series of war crimes and massacres (including those at Saliha [70 to 80 dead], Deir Yassin [around 120 dead], Lydda [around 250 dead], al-Dawayima [hundreds dead] and Abu Shousha [70 dead]).

The descendants of the expellees, who have become millions of refugees, are still deprived of their right to citizenship where they survive, and forbidden to return to their lands. 75 years on, Palestinians in the West Bank (Occupied Territories) and the Gaza Strip (under Israeli blockade for 17 years) are enduring a policy of colonisation, apartheid and human rights violations unabated by the State of Israel, now governed by a coalition of extreme right-wingers and religious fundamentalists.

To commemorate three quarters of a century of this “continuing reality”, the European Palestinian Council for Political Relations (EUPAC), headed by Majid Al-Zeer, held a conference in Brussels on the second of May. In the curriculum, some twenty speakers (academics, politicians, experts and journalists) intervened on 4 themes.

First: the crimes of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians and the confiscation of their right to self-determination. Second: Jerusalem, the settlements and political prisoners. Third: the question of refugees, both inside and outside Palestine, including those from Gaza (70% of whose population are refugees). Lastly: what can be done from Europe? Or to identify “ways of activating fairer European policies for the Palestinian people, based on the voice of the European voter who abhors war and calls for democracy, equality, an end to crimes against humanity, and an end to violations of the laws and ethics of the European institution”.

Contempt from the European Commission

Invited to take part in the event, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, did not attend or even send a representative. However, it cannot be said that the EUPAC organisers didn’t put their foot down: “We are Euro-Palestinians who share the same values as you: freedom for all, an end to all wars, the criminalisation of all forms of persecution and crimes against humanity, and the confiscation of their right to self-determination. EUPAC is honoured to invite you to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, as adopted by the United Nations, by participating in our conference”.

Between two deletions of her text messages to the CEO of Pfizer, von der Leyen probably didn’t appreciate the two paragraphs preceding her invitation: “The new apartheid state that is the occupation of Palestine […] has created seven million refugees. We are sure that you witnessed these life stories during your visit to the Holy Land last year. You know that more than 100,000 Palestinians have been killed, including women, children and the elderly. That more than a million Palestinian prisoners were in Israeli jails, that some of them died and that their bodies were never returned by the Israeli authorities.”

Unsurprisingly, by choosing to show contempt for this conference, which was intended as an opportunity for “deep reflection”, the President of the Commission is confirming a long-standing European position. A sort of Pavlovian reflex that could be summed up in the following terms: “Do everything to please and do business with Israel! Don’t risk upsetting Israel! Never mind the fact that this makes us look schizophrenic, torn between our tearful ethical rhetoric and the deadly co-responsibility of our political decisions”.

In this respect, it is also important to highlight the furious and effective lobbying of several pro-Israeli organisations (Israel Allies Foundation, European Leadership Network, Transatlantic Institute (the European branch of the famous American Jewish Committee) and B’nai B’rith Europe) with many MEPs. According to CNCD researcher Nathalie Janne d’Othée, this makes the European legislative body “a parliament under influence “.

In its conclusions, the EUPAC made no mistake and ended up scathing the person they had invited: “The European Union persists in supporting this criminal [the Israeli government], in maintaining a distinguished friendship with it, in supporting it in the conflicts that set it against itself and, in every possible way, through new economic and cultural agreements, arms contracts and the creation of political blocs. This was made clear in the speech by the President of the European Commission, who endorsed the exchange of ideals between Europe and the criminal state of Israeli occupation”.

Echoes from the French heavyweight

Two days after the Brussels conference, it was the turn of the French Parliament to confirm that it was on the same wavelength as the President of the Commission. It rejected (by 199 votes to 71) a resolution tabled by Communist MEP Jean-Paul Lecoq to condemn “Israel’s institutionalisation of an apartheid regime”.

Tainted by the usual suspicions and accusations of anti-Semitism from pro-Israeli MPs, the parliamentary debate quickly ran out of steam. Despite some oratorical flourishes from members of La France Insoumise (LFI), such as Aymeric Caron, calling for a vote on the resolution:

“There is a rumour going around this very Chamber that associating the word apartheid with Israeli policies is anti-Semitic. We refute and condemn this criticism, or rather this threat. Denouncing a policy has never been a manifestation of hostility towards a people or a state. Denouncing George Bush’s crusade in Iraq was not against the American people! Denouncing Putin’s aggression against Ukraine is not a racist stance against the Russian people! In the same way, denouncing the bellicose and illegal nature of decisions taken by the Israeli government has nothing to do with stigmatising a people or a religion. And it has to be said bluntly: those who would have us believe otherwise are playing with fire! We reject and hate anti-Semitism. That’s why we will not tolerate the uncompromising fight against it being exploited for political ends that undermine the fight against real anti-Semitism”.

Returning to Brussels, in the eyes of EUPAC, the year 2023 “must bring something new in favour of the Palestinians, because it has brought a lot of bloodshed against them, including by an extreme right-wing Israeli government, more criminal than its predecessors”.

How can we disagree with the global analysis of the Euro-Palestinians? While every day, with total international impunity, the coalition government led by Benyamin Netanyahu seeks “to legitimise the crimes that the Palestinian people have suffered for 75 years, to justify the murders and attacks by Jewish terrorist organisations [supported by the occupation government] against Palestinian villages as well as to legitimise the settlements, the theft of holy places and extra-judicial detention, including the seizure of the corpses of Palestinians.”

Nothing new in the West. The final colonial act of the 20th century, which is bloodying the Middle East and continues to produce its share of bloodshed, torture and violence against the Palestinian people, is unlikely to be stopped tomorrow by the European Union or its two pro-Israeli heavyweights, France and Germany.

European Palestinian Council for Political Relations EUPAC

Here’s a redacted version: