Jerusalem – In advance of High Representative for EU Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority tomorrow (May 20), NGO Monitor published an analysis of a key European Union policy paper, showing the EU’s flawed assessment and understanding of Israeli society. The EU’s External Action Service 2014 Israel ENP Progress report, published in March and addresses the EU-Israel relationship as part of the “European Neighborhood Policy,” uncritically relies on the claims of political NGOs and all but ignores violence against Israelis.
“It is astonishing to see a formal EU document, which is supposed to reflect developments in Israel and help set EU policy, that is so biased,” stated Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “Mogherini’s visit is an opportunity to begin fixing the failings of EU policy, which, if left uncorrected, will cause serious damage to the EU’s credibility in the peace process.”
NGO Monitor’s analysis indicates that the EU applies different human rights norms and international standards towards Israel, and omits events and terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Examples include:
- The ENP report fails to specifically mention violent attacks against Jewish targets, despite the steep rise in such attacks in 2014. In sharp contrast, the report discusses in detail actions done by individuals or groups that are identified by the EU as “extremist Israelis” or “far-right Jewish groups.”
- The report wrongfully identifies the Israeli restrictions and Egypt’s closing of the smuggling tunnels as the “primary obstacle for long-term economic development” in Gaza (page 16). This unsupported claim fails to acknowledge Hamas’s violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, continuous terror attacks from Gaza, and the uncontrolled flow of arms that compelled an Israeli response in order to protect civilians from attacks.
- The report does not mention Hamas’s grave violations of international law and human rights, including the use of UNRWA facilities, mosques, and hospitals to stockpile weapons and shield combatants. Simultaneously, the report does not address Israel’s humanitarian commitment to the so-called “humanitarian windows” (cease fires to transport of civilians to in Israeli hospitals) during military operations, as Hamas repeatedly violated the cease-fires.
NGO Monitor also notes that Israel is the only ENP country that has an entire chapter devoted to responsibilities under international law, including other ENP countries involved in territorial disputes and/or armed conflicts. This deviation from the standard template of ENP reports highlights the EU’s singling out of Israel and follows significant lobbying efforts from highly politicized NGOs.
“Like previous ENP Progress Reports on Israel, the EU relies extensively on material provided by a narrow group of fringe NGOs, resulting in a distorted approach that has affected the reports’ content and credibility,” added Professor Steinberg.