Het is jammer dat Duitslands positie vooral lijkt voort te komen uit het verleden, en daar door tegenstanders dus ook makkelijk op afgeschoven kan worden. Het is, meer in het algemeen, jammer dat het verleden en de verschrikkingen van de holocaust vaak nog de enige reden zijn voor mensen om een beetje fair over Israel te oordelen. Hoe dan ook, we hopen van harte dat Duitslands houding de EU richtlijnen zal doen aanpassen. Daarnaast is een veel kritischer houding tegenover de Palestijnen nodig, wil vrede ooit een kans krijgen en wil de EU zich nog als enigzins neutrale speler op het toneel kunnen vertonen.
Germany backs away from EU settlement directives
Germany distances itself from the "controversial European Union guidelines" banning cooperation with Israeli entities beyond the Green Line, a foreign policy spokesman in the Bundestag announced on Friday.
In a statement issued by MP Philipp Missfedler, the Bundestag spokesman for German chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party and its coalition partner the Bavarian Christian Social Union, he stated the guidelines are "pure ideology and symbolic politics" and will not contribute to finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Missfelder stated it is encouraging that the Federal Government has moved away from the new EU directives, which declared that from January 1 2014, Israeli projects in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights will no longer be given European Union financial backing.
He added that the European regulations are not "objective requirements" because over the last seven years of the approximately 800 million Euros of financial aid from Brussels to Israel, only 0.5% was funneled into projects covering the disputed territories.
"Israel is the recognized administrative power in the territories without which approved development projects like solar energy or sewage works could not be installed," Missfelder stated.
He continued that an implementation of the new EU guidelines could mean an "end of research cooperation with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem because some of their academics have an address in East Jerusalem."
It is unclear if the German position will reverse the EU action and lead to backtracking among other countries within the 28 member EU body.
Missfelder said the EU guidelines have a similar quality to the recent legislative initiative of the Green Party in the Bundestag to label products from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
The Green Party legislative initiative also fails to contribute to a" constructive solution of the conflict in the Palestinian territories," said Missfelder.
He added that "instead of issuing statements hostile to Israel, the Green Party faction should concentrate on a solution to the essential questions of the Middle East conflict: Israel's right to exist, an end to terrorism and fundamentalist violence, as well as the creation of a foundation for a two state solution, with final borders for both states."
Missfelder's disavowal of the product labeling measure appears to contradict Germany's Ambassador to Israel, Andreas Michaelis, who defended in a June Jerusalem Post opinion article labeling Israeli products made in the West Bank.
"EU consumer protection law sets very detailed requirements for retail labeling.They exist to provide a level playing field for trade across Europe and to inform consumers on the origin of products," wrote Michaelis.
Jewish organizations such as the Wiesenthal Center and the prominent German-Jewish journalist Henryk M.Broder declared the product labeling measure to be a de-facto boycott of Israeli merchandise, which recalls the Hitler movement's boycott of Jewish businesses.
Michaelis, however, wrote, "Neither are we in the business of calling for boycotts."
The German Greens have come under fire because of their aggressive legislative push to label Israeli products. The Neo-Nazi NPD party issued a similar demarcation measure to the Green Party in a East German state legislature last year. The Green party deputy Kerstin Müller played a critical role in the initiative targeting Israeli settlement products. She is slated to take over the reins of the German Green Party's Heinrich Böll foundation office in Tel Aviv later this year.
"Obviously, a person who played a leading role in this initiative is uniquely unsuitable to represent the Böll Foundation in Israel, but perhaps they have an opening available in Ramallah," Efraim Zuroff , the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office, told the Jerusalem Postlast month.
Müller has faced intense criticism over the last three years from Germany's Jewish community. The Central Council of Jews in Germany said in 2010 Müller displays an "intolerably paternalistic tone" toward Israel and toward Jews in Germany. That year, she supported an anti-Israel parliamentary resolution and attacked the council in a letter because its leadership criticized the resolution. The resolution rebuked Israel for its interception of the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which tried to break Israel's legal blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The head of the Berlin Jewish community, Dr. Gideon Joffe, said in June that Müller's conduct is anti-Semitic because she singled out only the Jewish state for product labeling.
"Kerstin Müller is an experienced foreign policy politician and with her longtime involvement in German-Israeli relations and the Middle East peace process make her an ideal representative for the foundation in Tel Aviv," Ralf Fücks, the head of the Heinrich-Böll Foundation, wrote the Post in an email response.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, from the Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor, told the Post at the time that"The Heinrich Böll Foundation irresponsibly channels German taxpayer funds to some causes and organizations that promote political warfare against Israel.".
He cited the Greens support for "such radical Palestinian groups as the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem."
Michael Schroeren, spokesman for the Green party faction in the Bundestag, rejected the criticisms leveled at Müller.