PA violence is elephant in the room that EU can no longer ignore

Another week and still the indiscriminate stabbing attacks against Israelis continue, another week and still no condemnation from the Palestinian Authority, nor calls on this bloodlust to cease.

Can you imagine the international uproar and the weight of worldwide opinion if Israelis were wandering around randomly stabbing Palestinian Arabs? And can you imagine if the Prime Minister and his Ministers justified it as ‘popular resistance’? It would, quite rightly, result in a deafening cacophony of condemnation.

Yet with one more off-duty sergeant dead, and a civilian and two border guards wounded as a result of stabbing attacks in Sha’ar Binyamin and Jerusalem this week, there is instead deafening silence from the European Union. No attempts to hold the Palestinian Authority and its president Mahmoud Abbas to account. No attempts to impose cuts on their funding as they seek to wash their hands and say “this is simply a reaction to the occupation”. 

Meanwhile Israelis, stoic as always go about their daily lives and respond in the way they do best: with gallows humour.

I was in Jerusalem at the start of the week, the first time since October, and the sense of tension was palpable. People looked over their shoulders, were wary of people who didn’t look Israeli, and they make jokes about who gets to stand in the middle if they are walking in threes, as that’s the best place to be if someone tries to stab you.

Whilst waiting for an Israeli friend to show up at Cinema City in the Government quarter, I found myself leaning against a wall, rather than sitting down so as to get a better view of people passing by. And I felt bad, knowing this is daily life for hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

This has to stop. And the EU needs to massively up its game in getting it to stop. If the Palestinian Authority think it can get away with inciting violence, then cry crocodile tears after acts of terror take place, well, it will.

So far – and now we are now in our fifth month since the wave of stabbing started – the EU has done precious little. A few words of condemnation, but no sanctions, no holding to account, no proper scrutiny, in short nothing of real diplomatic nor political worth.

So, as a result, the Palestinian Authority can continue to act with impunity. Safe in the knowledge that the EU is a toothless tiger. And that means more stabbings. More dead Israelis and Palestinians.

As Director of a Brussels based pro-Israel advocacy group, we are actively working on a political campaign to ensure that there is conditionality when it comes to EU aid.

What do I mean by conditionality? The Palestinian Authority gets Millions of Euros in taxpayers money in aid and support. Money that currently goes to support the cradle to the grave hatred of anything Jewish or Israeli. It currently supports schools named after suicide bombers, it supports the families of incarcerated terrorists, with a sliding scale of money dependent on the atrocity committed. It supports a regime – and I use that word in its proper context – that espouses the politics of the lowest common denominator: rabble rousing and hate mongering as a tactic to avert attention from its own shortcomings, namely endemic corruption and complete impotence in meeting the pressing social and economic needs of the people it professes to ‘represent’ despite the billions in aid money it has received over the years. I put represent in parentheses for good reason, the last and only  elections, as you know, were in 2005.

And Brussels is turning a blind eye for now. Which is hardly surprising given it has its collective blinkers on when it comes to its obsession with settlements. After the labelling debacle of last November, the EU has been trying to mend bridges with the State of Israel.

But it still refuses to tackle the bloody great elephant in the room, resplendent in neon signage that flashes “Palestinian violence and incitement to violence.”

Ask any Israeli what their biggest concern is and the vast majority will answer in one word: security. Yet all of the EU’s diplomatic ammunition is pointed at settlements, thereby alienating one side of your partners for peace, and worse still playing directly into the false Palestinian assertion that “it’s the settlements stupid”.

If the EU is serious about getting the Peace Process back on track, serious about being seen as an honest broker, and serious about rebuilding its relationship with the Israeli government and its people, it needs to remove the blinkers and allow the spotlight to move to EU aid and funding Mahmoud Abbas’ hate churning Palestinian Authority.

It needs to hit the PA where it hurts: In its pockets. Conditionality means that PA funds get cut unless it stops inciting violence.

With 229 attacks to date, 340 hurt, and 32 Israelis murdered since this ‘campaign’ started, it’s essential that this incitement stops.

Turn the screws on PA bank accounts today and I’d bet it will stop tomorrow.

This Op-Ed was written by EIAP executive director, Alex Benjamin and was published at The Times of Israel as well.


MEP Lars Adaktusson speech on EIPA PC

Ten years ago I was appointed Middle East Correspondent for Swedish National Television. Personally and on daily basis I experienced, and reported on, violence and terror attacks in Israel and the Palestinian areas. Regrettably, not much has changed since then. The core issues of the conflict have not been solved. And to be honest: in many aspects things have gone seriously worse.

The recent wave of terror against innocent Israeli civilians is fueling an already dangerous situation in the relations between Israelis and Palestinians. The terrorist attacks are intended to spread fear and horror among the civilian population, and sadly, it has already succeeded. People in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities today live in a constant distress and worry of further attacks.

The acts of violence so far seem to have one common denominator. The Palestinian attackers consider themselves taking part in ”protection” of the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The fact that the Palestinian population accept the pledge ”to attack to protect”, is in one way understandable – the Palestinian society is completely infiltrated by anti-Semitism, anti-Israeli propaganda and hate. Children’s programs on Television, school education, preaching’s in mosques, and media reporting are all delivering the same distorted message: The al-Aqsa Mosque has to be protected from the ”Jewish threat”.

Politically responsible for the Palestinian propaganda and todays serious developments is the Palestinian leadership and notably; president Mahmoud Abbas. The president’s direct support for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians is as obvious as unacceptable. And let’s face it; the image of Mahmud Abbas as a reliable partner for peace, a representative of democracy and non-violence, is incorrect and false.

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For peace to become a reality president Abbas needs to put an end to Palestinian violence – and the personal propaganda visits to the families of Palestinian terrorists. Furthermore the President needs, once and for all, to take action against corruption. The system with salaries, paid from the PA budget, to jailed Palestinian terrorists, has to be abolished. Money transfers to NGOs campaigning for hatred against Israel have to stop.

When it comes to bilateral aid and humanitarian assistance to the PA, my home country Sweden, will contribute with approximately 150 million Euro over the coming five years. Together with support and donations from other member countries and the EU funding, we are talking about huge amounts of money. Huge amounts that risk ending up in wrong pockets.

I believe the EU should stop sneaking around this issue by continuing to make large wire transfers to PA bank accounts. We need to be firm. Much of this aid is counterproductive – just as counterproductive as the labelling of products from settlements.

Instead we need to support and facilitate activities and projects that foster respect for human rights and democratic values in the Palestinian society. At the same time: whereas we are engaged in state-building measures with funds and expertise, we should link all the EU funds to a clear condition of an actual Palestinian renouncement to hate and all kind of violence.

As political representatives, as decision makers, we have a responsibility – not only to European tax payers, but also to people who are in need of our humanitarian support. For the sake of the most vulnerable, the most affected Palestinians, we are obliged to make sure that development aid from the EU is channeled in a accurate manner – to Palestinian organizations and stakeholders that promote and stands for peace, democracy and human rights. That is the single most effective way, and the most candid way, to assist the Palestinian people.

With these introductory remarks, I will again welcome you to this important seminar.