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Action or lip service? US' European allies seem to break ranks over Israeli settlements

Action or lip service? US' European allies seem to break ranks over Israeli settlements
As Donald Trump cozies up to the hardline Israeli right-wingers, it seems that support for a sensible Middle East policy is in decline. But a number of the US’ European allies seem to be beginning to break ranks with Washington.

On May 30, the Israeli Housing Ministry announced plans to build several hundred new residential buildings in the Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Both areas are located in the illegally occupied East of the city, which was seized in the June 1967 war. The UN has consistently condemned such settlements as a violation of international law. However, western governments, led by the US, have for decades been turning a blind eye.

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The US has gone further by enabling Israel through decades of generous military aid. President Donald Trump’s administration has taken kowtowing to right-wing Israeli governments to new heights. Trump recently officially recognized the Golan Heights as belonging to Israel, in spite of the area also constituting an illegal occupation under international law.

But now it appears that the US’s historically loyal European allies are parting from Washington’s hardline pro-Israel stance. The UK’s recently appointed minister for the Middle East, Andrew Murrison, has just condemned the planned constructions in Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot. The plans would take the two sides “further away from a negotiated peace agreement,” he said in a statement.

The UK Government is gravely concerned by plans announced on 30 May to advance tenders for hundreds of settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem.”

The government of France has also condemned the proposals. In a statement released on June 4, the French Foreign Ministry said that they undermine the prospect of a two-state settlement to the conflict, risk igniting an escalation of hostilities, and would be illegal under international law. The ministry called on Israel to abandon the plans and all other projects to build on occupied land.

But skeptics have expressed concern that, unless they are matched by concrete actions, these seemingly rebellious statements represent merely empty words.

It has no significance because for years the world is just releasing comments condemning the settlements and does nothing about it,”  Israeli journalist, author and Palestinian rights activist Gideon Levy told RT.

Israel learns to realize that those condemnations are nothing but lip service and that it can build settlements as long as it wants.”

George Galloway, former British member of parliament and long-time Palestinian rights campaigner, is even more scathing.

They can issue words like this but as long as there is no sanction of any kind – and quite the contrary – against Israel for these actions then they are only words; they are not worth the paper they are not written on,” he said.

Israel acts with complete impunity in defiance of international law, both in the Palestinian territories but also in Syria and in Lebanon, and nobody does anything about it except for occasionally issuing statements such as this.”

More broadly, Galloway said that he does see movement in Europe on some issues – such as the US’s stance on Iran and Nord Stream 2 – but not on others.

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So it’s patchy but it’s nonetheless discernible that traditional allies of the United States are not following them down their increasingly quixotic foreign policy ventures,” he said, warning that, however, “it will not have any meaningful effect until it’s backed by action.”

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