An article published Friday, March 20, 2015 in The Guardian (“Jerusalem at boiling point of polarisation and violence – EU report“) describes how another European Heads of Missions (HoMs) report on Jerusalem was leaked, in violation of internal EU processes and diplomatic norms. The HoMs reports, written by the heads of the EU’s member states diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, deal with central, complex, and sensitive issues of Israeli policy in Jerusalem, “Area C,” Gaza, the status of Israeli-Arab citizens, and allegations of settler violence.
According to The Guardian, the latest HoMs report dealing with Jerusalem blames Israel for terrorism against Israeli civilians and calls for sanctions against Israel. The leaked report describes the emergence of a “vicious cycle of violence … increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution,” which it says has been stoked by the continuation of “systematic” settlement building by Israel in “sensitive areas” of Jerusalem.
As in the past, this EU report was leaked to the media where its conclusions were covered extensively in Israel and internationally. Yet, despite the leak, the report is still considered an internal document. Thus, the content of the report can affect policy makers and public opinion, but it remains shielded from public scrutiny and bypasses recognized diplomatic norms.
As shown in detailed reports by NGO Monitor, European External Actions Service (EEAS) and EU Commission reports and policy recommendations, such as the HoMs report, rely extensively on Israeli and Palestinian political NGOs publications and lobbying, many of which are also funded through EU mechanisms. In many cases, these reports echo, paraphrase, or cite false, inaccurate, or misleading allegations made by a select group of NGOs such as ICAHD, HaMoked, ACRI, Ir Amim, Yesh Din and B’Tselem (among many others).
These documents, which later become EU official papers and greatly influence EU policy, are authored without due verification and examination from a wide range of both official and civil society sources. Additionally, in previous years, these reports were leaked to NGOs, often without the consent of some of the delegations.
The latest leaked HoMs report appears to suffer from the same shortcomings. In the past year, Palestinian violence against civilians in Jerusalem has reached a peak not seen in a decade, as pedestrians, worshippers, and policemen were killed or injured in numerous terror attacks and violent events. European-funded NGOs, including those traditionally cited in the HoMs reports, blame Israel for the attacks against its own civilians, while overlooking and even encouraging incitement that fuels this violence. This year’s report echoes this misleading and offensive approach, by repeating these claims and recommending sanctions against Israel.
The EU’s exclusive and non-transparent dependence on a very narrow and selected group of political advocacy NGOs results in ill-informed and counter-productive policies, discredits EU policy making, and calls into question European officials’ interactions with radical NGOs.