JERUSALEM—In a blistering letter sent to three top European Union officials, 40 members of Israel’s parliament, Knesset, accused the European body of working against the Jewish state in connection with a leaked EU document showing how it is seeking to illegally carve out territory for the creation of a Palestinian state.
The letter stated, “We learned of an official policy document of the European Union, a document the gravity of which cannot be overstated, one that leaves no room for doubt as to the one-sidedness and animosity of the EU towards the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The document completely ignores our people’s historical affinity to our homeland, completely ignores the political agreements and the status of the State of Israel in Area C and seeks to establish the 1949 borders as Israel’s final-status permanent borders – in complete disregard of the Jewish communities in the area.”
Area C is located in the disputed West Bank territory, referred to by many Israelis by the region’s biblical names as Judea and Samaria. Close to 500,000 Israelis and around 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C, which makes up 60% of the total area of Judea and Samaria.
Palestinians want Area C as part of an independent state, while a number of Israeli parties want the territory to be absorbed into Israel proper. The EU leaked document surfaced ahead of Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to form a new right-wing government.
The members of the Knesset added the document “exposes only the tip of the iceberg of the EU’s activities to undermine the State of Israel. We have not lost sight of your ongoing and continuous contribution, both direct and indirect, to campaigns designed to tarnish Israel’s name, from blood libels regarding alleged violence on the part of settlers, through unfounded accusations that Israel deliberately harms children, to specious comparisons of the policies of the government of the State of Israel to those of the Apartheid regime in South Africa of yesteryear.”
Israel’s Chanel 13 TV station first broke the story last week about the leaked six-page document titled “European Joint Development Programme for Area C.”
Peter Stano, a spokesman for EU Foreign and Security Policy, told Fox News Digital that the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, “doesn’t seem to be among the addressees, so we cannot really comment on the substance. For that you would need to contact the press teams of the three Presidents mentioned.”
Fox News Digital sent queries to the three officials, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, but has not received a response.
Israeli media reported that the EU’s delegation in Israel said in a statement in response to the leaked document that, “The EU’s policies and positions are formed by 27 member states and are conveyed and communicated in a proper way both to partners and to the media. Our policy regarding the West Bank has not changed: The EU is united in its commitment to achieving a two-state solution with the State of Israel living live side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition with an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as the future capital of both states.”
The spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, Ambassador Emmanuel Nahshon, sent Fox News Digital a statement and noted, “In our understanding, this is an internal document of the European Union. It presents a series of positions that are unacceptable to Israel, including in relation to Area C. Israel made this clear to the [European] Union in a series of contacts with its representatives at all levels.”
The Israeli foreign ministry statement added, “Since the writing of the document, most likely in June 2022, Israel and the European Union held both an Association Council meeting [a high-level meeting between Israel, the EU and neighboring countries] in October of this year (for the first time in 12 years) and a political dialogue in which issues on the agenda in relations between Israel and the European Union were discussed.”
“The EU document was leaked was no surprise to us. We are gratified by the Knesset’s response. For too many years, the Israeli government did not respond to the blatant violations of Israel’s jurisdiction and international law,” said Naomi Linder Kahn, the director of the International division for Regavim, an Israeli organization that describes itself as being dedicated to the protection of Israel’s natural resources.
She told Fox News Digital, “It is obscene that they [the EU] condemns settlement activity. They are leading the entire region to confrontation rather than encourage the Palestinians to return to negotiations to resolve things peacefully.”
While questions sent to the Palestinian Authority went unanswered, the Jerusalem Post recently reported that the Palestinians fear that the incoming Netanyahu led right-wing government could look to annex the whole of Area C, which it said could lead to a third Intifada.
The Jerusalem Post quoted one senior Palestinian official as saying any such move to annex Area C would lead to the cancelation of the Oslo Accords and other such agreements between the sides.
Alex Traiman, a veteran Israeli commentator and the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Jewish News Syndicate, told Fox News Digital, “Consistent efforts by the Palestinian Authority to confiscate and apportion property in Area C, Israeli administered territory in Judea and Samaria, in direct violation of the Oslo Accords, is one of the most underreported stories of recent years.”
He noted, “Members of Israel’s incoming right-wing governing coalition, unlike their outgoing left-wing colleagues, will not stand idly by as the European Union undercuts Israeli interests under its nose. It is now clear that Israel’s Western allies in the European Union have been directly encouraging and funding these efforts.”
Fox News Digital reached out for comment to the Israeli government office responsible for the West Bank, The Unit for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), on the lawmakers’ letter and claims by Regavim. A COGAT spokesperson told Fox News Digital that they are still looking into the issues raised.