On Wednesday the European Union published a list of Israeli postal codes that determines which localities controlled by Israel may not be eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the EU-Israel Association Agreement. According to the EU, preferential treatment will be refused to products for which the proof of origin indicates a locality within the territories brought under Israeli administration since June 1967.
This list has been published and updated since 2004 in order to”make it easier for EU importers to determine whether customs duties need to be paid or not.” However, the list as published on 14 August 2012 clarifies that at least for tax purposes, the EU does not recognized areas annexed by Israel, such as the Syrian Golan Heights and Ear Jerusalem, nor areas designated as “No Man’s Land” under the July 1949 cease fire agreement, as part of the state of Israel.
This last list clearly contradicts Israeli efforts to re-draw the state border lines in any future negotiations. Israel objected to Barak Obama’s proposition that the borders of a future Palestinian state should be based on the Green Line, claiming that George W. Bush provided guaranties that a Palestinian state will not undo the urban and demographic facts established by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967.
While Israel attempts make the US and Europe recognize that towns like Maale Adumim and Ariel, clearly located within the West Bank, are not negotiable and will not be included in any future Palestinian state, the postal code list published by the European Union designates not as part of Israel cities like Modiin, located in “No-Man’s Land” on the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry claims that the EU decided unilaterally to publish the list on an internal EU website, while negotiations over the issue were taking place with Israel. It further contended that the publication is a result of pressure from various parliamentarians and NGOs
Europe says that the publication of the list did not require negotiations. “However, prior to its publication, the EU, in accordance with the 2004 Arrangement, extensively consulted with the Israeli government and its suggestions have been taken into account as far as possible.”
This list is outside of the realm of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. However, it signals that despite the European offer to upgrade trade and diplomatic relations with Israel in more than sixty areas, the European consensus continues to support a two state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It further indicates a weakening of Israeli diplomacy as Europe adopts a Palestinian interpretation on the question of the territories to form an eventual Palestinian state.
Israel, on the other hand, holds to the vision that a Palestinian state, if created, should be an archipelago of isolated areas on 40% of the West Bank (12% of historical Palestine).
Apparently in September the Arab League will place on the UN General Assembly agenda a proposition to upgrade the status of the Palestinian delegation. The EU states may vote against such a proposition or abstain, but after the vote they will continue to pressure for negotiations that will save the two-states idea, as a tariff border become a political fact. A regional war may be an Israeli strategy to avoid such pressures.
* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)