Forty-two years is a long time. Israel somehow thinks that with passing of time, and by passing unilateral laws, it can dictate history.
This week, the Israeli arrogance in going against international will, which has been going on for so many years, seems to be facing a reality check. The next logical step is then for European Union countries to refuse to recognise any products produced in industrial zones created in East Jerusalem as coming from Israel.
When Israel occupied Arab territory in 1967, the UN Security Council declared in the preamble to Resolution 242 the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war".
But Israel simply ignored this unanimous UN decision, expanded the municipal borders of East Jerusalem and then unilaterally annexed it to Israel.
In describing Israel’s activities in Jerusalem, Israeli human rights organisation Btselem stated that "Israel annexed 70,500 dunums from East Jerusalem and the West Bank and incorporated them in Jerusalem’s borders.
From this annexed territory, Israel has expropriated about one-third of the annexed territory – 24,000 dunums – most of it privately owned Arab property. Israel used this expropriated land for residential construction. By the end of 2001, 46,978 housing units had been built for Jews on this land, but not one unit for Palestinians who constitute one-third of the city’s population".
Not only did Israel illegally annex the eastern, Arab, sector of the city, it has also been following, for 42 years, a strategic policy aimed at shrinking the Palestinian Arab population of the city while increasing the number of Jews. Several leaked Israeli documents showed that Israeli politicians have been working on keeping the Palestinian population in Jerusalem under 28 per cent of the total city population. Statistics obtained from the Israeli ministry of interior show that 4,577 residents of East Jerusalem had their residence revoked in 2008, which was greater than half the total revoked over the past 40 years.
Palestinian and Arab protests against this discriminatory Israeli action failed to produce any effective counterpolicy. Palestinians refused to participate in Jerusalem municipal elections and protested vigorously the Israeli decision to dismantle Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem.
Politically, the just released EU foreign ministers’ statement on Jerusalem is providing the clearest possible signal that the Netanyahu administration’s approach of beginning negotiations without any reference points is unacceptable. Israel’s continued refusal to include negotiations over the status of East Jerusalem and its actions in the city, behaving as if this were an internal Israeli issue, cannot escape the scrutiny of international law.
The roadmap clearly calls on Israel to stop settlement activities in East Jerusalem and to reopen institutions that were closed before the outbreak of the second Intifada, in October 2000.
While the Quartet, made up of the US, the EU, Russia and the UN, is responsible for making sure that the Israelis are carrying out this phase of the roadmap, the European Union has the ability to send an even clearer message to the Israelis regarding their violations in East Jerusalem.
One such violation is the Atarot industrial zone, built on Palestinian land in north Jerusalem just near the Qalandia refugee camp. The area of this industrial zone was outside the Jerusalem city limits in 1967, one of the areas that Israel unilaterally expanded to include the Jerusalem municipality and then annexed to Israel.
Israeli anti-occupation movement Gush Shalom posted on its website a list of products produced in settlements in the occupied territories. The logical next step is for the European Union to refuse any customs or tax waivers given to these companies as part of the Israel-EU agreements.
Below is a list of some of these companies and the products they are producing in occupied East Jerusalem, listed as being made in Israel: Food producer A&M Greenberg, salted bagel cookies producer Abadi Mizrahiot, Granola bars producers Jerusalem Granloa, chocolate and sweets producers Openheimer, paper products from Holgla Jerusalem, cosmetics produced by InterCosma, pencils by Jerusalem Pencils, air-conditioning by Pereg, the Aviv builders, the Export books factory, wood work productions produced by Nesarim, Gachelet company producer of aluminium products, science and technology producers Gelman, cement industries Isra-Beton, Israeli United Laundries and Klima Israel limited. The full list of settlement products can be downloaded by clicking here.