Wednesday, June 16, 2010

30 years ago: European Economic Community supports Palestinians, criticizes Israel

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

From the "some things never change" department: On June 13, 1980 the European Economic Community began a two-day meeting in Venice. One might think that the EEC would be concerning itself with European economic matters. However, then, as now, the EEC was obsessed with Israel.

On June 13 the European Economic Community backed the self-determination of the Palestinian people and suggested that the Palestine Liberation Organization be "associated with" negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The U.S.A. and Israel had refused to accept the PLO as a negotiating partner in talks on the future of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. Negotiations over Palestinian autonomy resulting from the 1979 Camp David accord between Israel and Egypt had been suspended on May 15 by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat when it became clear for the first time that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin was determined to push a bill through the Knesset approving all of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and rejecting Arab claims to East Jerusalem. The suspension of negotiations thus left the ultimate status of Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip uncertain.

On June 14 the EEC concluded its meeting in Venice by issuing an 11-point statement, which included a declaration that Israel must "put an end to the terrorist occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and that the EEC would not accept any unilateral initiative to change the status of Jerusalem. What Israel's stance on Jerusalem or the Palestinians had to do with the European Economic Community, or what right the EEC had to say what it would or would not "accept," is unclear--at least, to this blogger.

It should be mentioned that the European Economic Community had nine members in 1980: Belgium; Denmark; France; West Germany; Ireland; Italy; Luxembourg; the Netherlands; and the United Kingdom. Greece's membership had been approved in 1979, to take effect on January 1, 1981. Spain and Portugal had applied for membership in 1977 and were still awaiting approval.

As for the bill affirming all of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, it passed the Knesset by a vote of 69-15 on July 30. The bill's passage was probably aided by Israeli resentment over the passage on July 29 of an Arab-sponsored resolution in the United Nations General Assembly calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state and Israeli withdrawal from all occupied lands, including East Jerusalem, by November 15.

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