Monday, May 15, 2023 by Karin Heepen
On 29-30 March 2023, The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (thinc.) in collaboration with Christians for Israel and Sallux (ECPM Foundation) organised the conference "Israel on Trial". In addition to presenting the foundation and status of the state of Israel under international law, the speakers also explored the role of the UN, the Human Rights Council and the EU in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Chairwoman of the BundnisC -Karin Heepen- participated in this conference and called for an EU policy in the Middle East “which instead of confrontation and separation of Israelis and Palestinians promotes their peaceful coexistence.”
This year the Jewish State of Israel celebrates its 75th birthday. Israel is one of the most successful nations on earth, the only democracy in the Middle East, and a major contributor to global innovation, regional prosperity and security. And yet Israel’s legitimacy and sovereignty are under attack. During the two-day conference, lawyers and historians from Australia, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Israel and U.S. presented evidence that UN institutions have deliberately engaged in "lawfare" against the state of Israel by manipulating international law and institutions to undermine the state of Israel.
Israel is a legal state under international law. On this basis, keynote speaker Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, a human rights NGO in Geneva, opened the conference at the Omniversum in The Hague. Since the UN Declaration 3379, adopted in 1975 under the influence of the Soviet Union, the UN has followed the narrative that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination. Even though the resolution was withdrawn in 1989 after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the UN has since passed more resolutions against alleged human rights violations by Israel than against all other states combined. Most of the anti-Israel resolutions are initiated by Arab states. Neuer described how dictatorial member states are deliberately manipulating the UN Human Rights Council as well as the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court to delegitimize Israel: “From an advocate for individual human rights, the Human Rights Council has turned into an advocate for corrupt governments.”
Among the more than 25 distinguished speakers at the conference, Prof. Gregory Rose (University of Wollongong, Australia and thinc.) addressed the “lawfare” against Israel, a warfare through the abuse of international law. This includes the labelling of Israel as an apartheid state and the insinuation of the occupation of Palestinian land. Stigmatising Israel as an occupier ignores the foundation of the state of Israel under international law and that Israel reclaimed the West Bank in 1967 from Arab occupiers who had held it since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.
Speaking about the quiet front of the war of attrition in Judea and Samaria was Naomi Linder Khan, Director of the International Division of Regavim, a think-tank for the protection of Israel's sovereignty. She presented how, with EU and UN funding, thousands of illegal Palestinian structures are being built on Israeli land in Judea and Samaria. By de facto annexation, environmental destruction, the decimation of archaeological sites and rewriting of history, Israeli land is progressively turned into Palestinian territory. There have been 245 schools built for the Palestinian Authority in Area C, all sponsored by the EU since 2015. Both the schools and the illegal buildings are empty.
Finally, Johannes de Jong, Director of Sallux, compared the EU approach vis-à-vis the Palestinians with the EU’s stance towards other ethnic groups and minorities in the Middle East who, like the Palestinians, are distinct peoples but do not have their own state. He examined the application of the principles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to the EU's interaction with ethnic and religious minorities such as the Baluchis and the Kurds and called for comparable attention afforded to these groups as it is given to the Palestinians.
Palestinians in Israel have far more rights and a higher standard of living than people in the surrounding Arab states. Many Palestinians in the West Bank would rather live under Israeli civil law (like in Area C) than under the Palestinian Authority. But the declared goal of the Palestinian leadership is not peaceful coexistence with their Jewish neighbours, but a Jew-free country. The EU must terminate the funding of illegal occupation of Israeli land and stop forcing the partition of the country. The Oslo process has failed since 1993 and a two-state solution is a non-feasible fiction. 600,000 Israeli settlers will neither leave Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, nor live under Palestinian rule. Christians in Europe should support initiatives that practice reconciliation in the conflict, as a young Palestinian at the conference was giving examples for. The Abraham Accords show that peaceful collaboration in the region is possible.
Vice-president of the European Christian Political Movement