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January 14, 2011

In News

EU diplomats say East Jerusalem should be treated as Palestinian capital

By Nir Hasson

East Jerusalem should be treated as the capital of the Palestinian state, according to a report compiled by the heads of European diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah. The report includes several other unprecedented recommendations to the European Union regarding its attitude toward East Jerusalem.

The European diplomats, mainly consuls, also recommend that EU officials and politicians refuse to visit Israeli government offices that are located beyond the Green Line and that they decline any Israeli security in the Old City and elsewhere in East Jerusalem.

The report, which was completed last month, was sent to the EU’s main foreign policy body, the Political and Security Committee in Brussels. It was apparently not released at the time due to the sensitivity of its content.

The diplomats’ report also discusses the possibility of preventing “violent settlers in East Jerusalem” from being granted entry into EU countries. In the area of commerce, it recommends encouraging a boycott of Israeli products from East Jerusalem.

The first part of the report details construction and expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem, the infringement of human rights of Palestinian residents of the eastern part of the city, as well as inequality in education and medical services available to Palestinians. The report concludes that beyond their humanitarian significance, these conditions weaken the Palestinian hold on the city.

European criticism of Israeli policy in the territories and particularly East Jerusalem is not new. But the dramatic turn in the report can be seen in the operative steps it recommends, which in fact constitute the foundations for sanctions against Israel.

For example, the document proposes that visiting senior EU officials not use Israeli businesses operating in East Jerusalem, such as hotels and transportation companies, and that archaeological sites operated by “pro-settler organizations” (a reference to the City of David National Park ) not be visited.

The report goes on to suggest that public awareness be raised about settlement products, “for instance by providing guidance on origin labeling for settlement products to major EU retailers,” and that EU citizens be informed “of the financial risks involved in purchasing property in occupied East Jerusalem.”

The diplomats also recommend that the EU encourage Israel to allow the reopening of Palestine Liberation Organization offices in East Jerusalem, in keeping with the road map. Israel closed the PLO institutions during the second intifada.

EU diplomats are called on to express great concern during their meetings with senior Israeli officials over the state of emergency services to East Jerusalem Arabs, the report also says, adding that EU officials should be present at house demolitions or evacuations from homes, as well as at court hearings on such issues.

The report further recommends that the European Union “encourage Arab countries to acknowledge the multicultural dimension of Jerusalem, including its Jewish and Christian heritage.”