Leaked EU report on Settler Violence

Posted on: 9 Apr 2012 | Filed under:

On 5 April 2012, The Rights Forum, an organisation headed by former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt, leaked an EU report on settler violence against Palestinians that had previously been blocked by the government of the Netherlands. The report, drafted by the EU heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, was issued in April 2011 and updated in February 2012. In the report, the EU heads of Mission:

  • Reiterate that the acquisition of territory by force or the threat of the use of force is inadmissible, and that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace, and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.
  • State that settler activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is a leading cause of violence against Palestinians, their rights, and their property.
  • Criticise the application of two different legal systems for settlers and for Palestinians: “The coexistence in the West Bank of these two legal frameworks, one civil – more favourable – applied to the settlers, and one military applied to the local Palestinian population, has institutionalised de facto discrimination before the law.”
  • State that settler attacks, and the absence of legal remedies, have a deep physical, psychological and economic impact on the affected population. 
  • State that settler attacks are compounded by the discriminatory protections and privileges afforded to settlers, which “create an environment in which settlers can act with apparent impunity,” and add that “the political impact of the de facto impunity is significant.”

The EU heads of Mission further state that Israel has “so far failed to effectively protect the Palestinian population.” They urge the Israeli authorities to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law to protect Palestinians, calling for accountability for perpetrators and for a more effective law enforcement to curb all forms of settler violence. There is a further recommendation that EU member states should consider including violent settler leaders and those calling for violent acts against Palestinians on travel watch lists.

The leaking of this report only serves to highlight that the EU is fully aware of the circumstances on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that are making any chance of a resolution based on a genuine two state solution, impossible. However, the recommendations put forward by the Heads of Missions will, on any realistic view of the situation, be wholly ineffectual. This then raises the question: at what point does this obvious lack of effective action amount to complicity, or merely appeasement?

Related links:

The Guardian - Israel 'turning blind eye' to West Bank settlers' attacks on Palestinians

Voices from the Occupation
– the case of the Sofan family