JERUSALEM – A European Union boycott of financial dealings with Jews in the biblical West Bank, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem was fully coordinated with the Obama administration, a senior Palestinian negotiator told WND.
“Without the U.S. support, the EU wouldn’t have taken such measures,” the negotiator said.
On Friday, the EU published guidelines forbidding its 28 members from having any financial dealings with what it calls Jewish settlements or territories that have been “occupied” by Israel since 1967.
The preface to the guidelines states “the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over … the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem … and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic law.”
“Only Israeli entities having their place of establishment within Israel’s pre-1967 borders will be considered eligible as final recipients” of funding such as “grants, prizes and financial instruments.”
A high-ranking Israeli foreign ministry official told Agence France-Presse on Friday that Israel met the ambassadors of Britain and France, and Germany’s deputy ambassador to convey a message that the boycott will cause a serious crisis in diplomatic relations.
On Sunday, the popular Israel Today newspaper reported that hundreds of legal experts are drafting a document to reply to the EU boycott. The legal response will reportedly state that the so-called Jewish settlements are not illegal and that the term “occupied” does not apply to those territories.
A translation of the current version of the appeal reads the EU boycott is “based on misguided and legally flawed assumptions about the status of the Israeli settlements and the validity of the 1967 lines as Israel’s borders.”
Continues the document: “The EU’s definition of Judea and Samaria as ‘Palestinian territories’ or ‘occupied territories’ is devoid of any legal or factual merit. The area was never defined as such [under international law] and therefore the EU’s continuous use of this terminology undermines the negotiations for a permanent [peace] deal. … The EU’s perception of the Israeli settlements’ illegality stems from various different interpretations of international law.”
Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank, is dotted with biblical, historically Jewish cities, including Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in the world, where Jews have lived for more than 2,500 years.
Hebron is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, believed to be the resting place of biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. There are accounts of the trials of the city’s Jewish community throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods.
In 1929, as a result of an Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered, the entire Jewish community fled the city, with Hebron – including the market – becoming temporarily devoid of Jews until Israel recaptured the land in 1967.
The West Bank is also home to Shechem, or Nablus. The book of Genesis says Abraham entered Israel at the West Bank city of Shechem and received God’s promise of land for his offspring.
The nearby West Bank town of Beit El – in anciently times called Bethel, meaning “house of God” – is where Scripture says the patriarch Jacob slept on a stone pillow and dreamed of angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven. In that dream, God spoke directly to Jacob and reaffirmed the promise of land. Earlier, God had promised the land of Israel to Abraham at Beit El. In Exodus, the holy tabernacle rested just north of Beit El in Shiloh, believed to be the first area the ancient Israelites settled after fleeing Egypt.
News accounts routinely billed the Golan as “undisputed Syrian territory” until Israel “captured the region” in 1967. In actuality, the Golan has been out of Damascus’ control for far longer than the 19 years it was within its rule, from 1948 to 1967.
Even when Syria shortly held the Golan, some of it was stolen from Jews. Tens of thousands of acres of farmland on the Golan were purchased by Jews as far back as the late 19th century. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire kicked out some Jews around the turn of the century.
But some of the Golan was still farmed by Jews until 1947, when Syria first became an independent state. Just before that, the territory was transferred back and forth between France, Britain and even Turkey, before it became a part of the French Mandate of Syria.
When the French Mandate ended in 1944, the Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria, which quickly seized land that was being worked by the Palestine Colonization Association and the Jewish Colonization Association. A year later, in 1948, Syria, along with other Arab countries, used the Golan to attack Israel in a war to destroy the newly formed Jewish state.
The Golan, steeped in Jewish history, is connected to the Torah and to the periods of the First and Second Jewish Temples. The Golan Heights was referred to in the Torah as “Bashan”; the word “Golan” apparently derived from the biblical city of “Golan in Bashan.”
The book of Joshua relates how the Golan was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh. Later, during the time of the First Temple, King Solomon appointed three ministers in the region, and the area became contested between the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus.
The book of Kings tells how King Ahab of Israel defeated Ben-Hadad I of Damascus near the present-day site of Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan; and the prophet Elisha foretold that King Jehoash of Israel would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik.
The online Jewish Virtual Library has an account of how in the late 6th and 5th centuries B.C., the Golan was settled by Jewish exiles returning from Babylonia, or modern day Iraq. In the mid-2nd century B.C., Judah Maccabee’s grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannai, added the Golan Heights to his kingdom.
The Golan hosted some of the most important houses of Torah study in the years following the Second Temple’s destruction and subsequent Jewish exile; some of Judaism’s most revered ancient rabbis are buried in the territory. The remains of some 25 synagogues from the period between the Jewish revolt and the Islamic conquest in 636 have been excavated. The Golan is also dotted with ancient Jewish villages.
‘Secret Obama plan’ forfeits Temple Mount
The EU boycott came as Secretary of State John Kerry announced that both Israel and PA President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to open negotiations to create a Palestinian state.
WND reported yesterday the Obama administration has quietly presented a plan in which the PA and Jordan would receive sovereignty over the Temple Mount while Israel would retain the land below the Western Wall, according to a senior PA negotiator.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism.
Israel has not agreed to the U.S. plan regarding the Temple Mount, with details still open for discussion, stated the PA negotiator.
The negotiator, who is one of the main Palestinian figures leading the Arab side of the talks, further divulged Kerry’s proposed outline for a Palestinian state as presented orally to Israel and the PA.
He said Jordan has been invited to play a key role in the discussions surrounding both the Temple Mount and Jerusalem while it will be the PA, with some Jordanian assistance, that would ultimately receive control of some of those areas.
WND was first to report in 2007 that Jordan had been quietly purchasing real estate surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem hoping to gain more control over the area accessing the holy site, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials.
Meanwhile, regarding the rest of Jerusalem, Kerry’s plan is to rehash what is known as the Clinton parameters. That formula, pushed by President Bill Clinton during the Camp David talks in 2000, called for Jewish areas of Jerusalem to remain Israeli while the Palestinians would get sovereignty over neighborhoods that are largely Arab. Most Arab sections are located in eastern Jerusalem.
WND previously reported the Palestinians are building illegally in Jewish-owned areas of Jerusalem, resulting in Arab majorities in some neighborhoods.
For the strategic Jordan Valley, Obama’s proposal calls for international forces to maintain security control along with unarmed Palestinian police forces, the PA negotiator said. Israel will retain security posts in some strategic areas of the Jordan Valley, according to the leaked plan.
When it comes to the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Israel’s main population centers, Israel is expected to evacuate about 90 percent of its Jewish communities currently located in the territory, as outlined in Kerry’s plan.
Israel would retain strategic security posts along with the West Bank’s main blocs, Maale Adumin, Ariel and Gush Etzion. In return, Obama is calling for an exchange of territory with the Palestinians in other locations inside Israel, with discussion being open for the Palestinians to possibly receive land in the Israeli Negev in the country’s south.
The PA negotiator further said Israel rejected a Palestinian request that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree not to place the final peace plan up for referendum in the Knesset.
Indeed, Netanyahu announced that any plan must receive final approval in a national poll.
“I am committed to two objectives that must guide the result … if there will be a result. And if there will be a result, it will be put to a national referendum,” he said at the start of the cabinet meeting.
“Negotiations with the Palestinians will not be easy, but we are entering them with integrity, honesty and hope,” Netanyahu added.
The PA negotiator, meanwhile, said Netanyahu agreed that as a gesture to restart talks, Israel will enact a temporary freeze on all Jewish construction in the West Bank outside the main settlement blocs. According to Israeli sources, such a freeze has largely already been in place for several months now anyway.
The negotiator warned that one of the toughest issues centers on control of water, with Kerry already reaching out to Turkey about the prospect of selling water at a cheaper rate to a future Palestinian state.