Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.—Romans 12:20
by Roy Tov
“Don’t bother me with the Palestinians. If the Egyptian new dictator—What’s his name? Order a lecture on his name!—calls, tell him that I am busy with two wars,” Israel’s Minister of Defense told to his military secretary.
He was serious. In June 2013, a struggle against McDonald’s had escalated after a decision of the chain not to open a branch in the West Bank. He will show those American Ronalds that Jews have the right to eat a non-kosher cheeseburger wherever their wish.
Unluckily, McDonald’s is an American corporation. Due to the strategic relations between the countries, he needed to conduct this war underground, guerrilla-style. Elite soldiers disguised as settlers spraying nasty graffiti on McDonald’s branches during the little hours of the night. “What a waste!” He said aloud while bravely chewing his commando-knife.
The Other War
The second war being commanded by the Minister of Defense took place on the same territory but against a different enemy. In the confused reality of the occupied West Bank, the Minister is the sovereign. His word is worth more than the feeble voice of the Prime Minister or even than the Palestinian Authority. This meant that sometimes he acts as a foreign affairs minister.
In July 2013, the European Union published its guidelines banning EU funding of projects in territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East War. According to the EU decision, from 2014, all existing agreements between European countries with Israel will exclude East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Israeli projects applying for EU funding will be required to sign a clause to state that it will not apply to the Occupied Territories.
The EU is attempting to stop the bisection of the West Bank. Israel is trying to create Jewish contiguity between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, where one of Israel’s main industrial centers is located. Once this is achieved, the West Bank will be effectively bisected,* splitting the State of Palestine in three non-contiguous zones (Gaza would be the third). If the West Bank is bisected, Palestine would not be viable.
As explained in EU Hits Israel, this public event took Israel by surprise. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is being temporarily run by the Prime Minister, who doesn’t have time to get involved. The ongoing strike of that ministry has left Israel unable to deal with other countries except for emergencies. Nobody considered the excruciatingly slow politics of the EU to be an emergency; thus Israel was forced to react only afterwards.
Since the decision was taken, Israeli politicians were consistently nasty towards the EU, but nothing was done. On July 26, the Ministry of Defense declared sanctions on Europe.
European War of Sanctions
Courtesy of The Economist
As in the case of McDonald’s and the USA, Israel must be careful while dealing with Europe, which is the largest recipient of Israeli exports, with 35% of the total. Declaring war would have been foolish. Instead, Israel started a war without declaring it.
The European couldn’t react to the Minister of Defense. “We have got no formal messages on the issue,” was their invariable message, including from the spokeswoman of the European Foreign Affairs Council. Moshe Ya’alon, Sovereign of the West Bank, had won the first battle of the Sanctions War.
The Sovereign of the West Bank didn’t bother to contact the EU. Instead, he delivered orders to the IDF and the Civil Administration and sent a copy to the Hebrew media.
He ordered to stop the cooperation with people of the European Union in the West Bank and to deny them help in the different projects they are implementing. In Gaza, they will be denied entry and exit via Israel, forcing them to cross via the Sinai, an area suffering violence these days.
Israel can block projects only in Area C, the parts of the West Bank under complete control of the IDF. In other parts, the cooperation would continue as usual, unless Europe gets really nasty. Right wing extremists in Israel have called to cut diplomatic relations with the EU.
“Bring me a cheeseburger! Tell the Palestinians to wait with their war!” Ya’alon yelled at his secretary.
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* Israel’s strategy is changing rapidly. For many years, the official viewpoint was “two countries for two peoples,” attempting to create a two-states solution of the conflict with Palestine. Yet, three out of three Prime Ministers who attempted to sign a permanent agreement ended their terms violently. Rabin was assassinated with the Court-proven help from the Shin Beth secret police, Sharon suffered a sudden stroke and was clumsily evacuated to the hospital by ambulance during the rush hour while administered a wrong drug. Olmert was wrongly impeached. Lucky coincidences? The Shin Beth knows that this is not the case.
Israel was gaining time. During all this period, the settlements grew rapidly. In mid 2013, there are more than 500,000 Jewish settlers in over 100 settlements. In recent months, Israel is attempting to strike its coup de grâce on Palestine by planning a settlement in an area known as E1 (E1: Trashing Evil). If completed, the West Bank would be bisected.