EU’s aviation deal with Israel ‘the pinnacle of hypocrisy’

Brussels’ halfwits, like London’s and Washington’s, never stop rewarding the racist regime even when it’s poised to grab more Palestinian territory

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Graduation of the first class of the Palestine Flying Service at Lydda Airport in April 1939. Aircraft include VQ-PAH, a Taylorcraft BC used as a trainer by the school; SU-ABQ, a de Havilland Dragon Rapide of Egypt’s Misrair; G-ABTJ ‘Artemis’, an Imperial Airways Armstrong Whitworth Atalanta class, serving the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East; a Handley Page H.P.42 Hannibal class (G-AAUE ‘Hadrian’) of Imperial Airways, flown on routes as far as India; and VQ-PAF, a tri-motor Fokker F.XVIII tri-motor of Hevra Avirit Miskharit. The two aircraft in front of VQ-PAH with graduating pilots are Taylorcrafts VQ-PAI and VQ-PAJ. In the foreground are members of several Jewish organizations. (Israel Government Press Office)

by Stuart Littlewoood

I had barely finished my rant against the British Government for showering new rewards on the Israelis (see ‘Do Palestinians’ lives matter?’) when the EU voted to do the same.

The UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement signed last year comes into force next January. The Government says it loves this relationship and is committed to strengthening it. “We will seek to work with counterparts in the new Israeli government to host a bilateral trade and investment summit in London.” This will “identifying new opportunities and collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom”.

Not to be outdone, the EU has now decided to hand Israel a juicy aviation agreement, the latest in a long line of goodies awarded to the apartheid regime for its crimes against humanity. And that’s after the EU had voiced condemnation of Israel’s latest annexation plan.

The European Union’s investment bank — the world’s largest multilateral borrower and lender

Not only that, the European Investment Bank, the EU’s financing institution, has just agreed a 150 million euros loan for a seawater desalination plant – one of the largest in the world – for Israel “in one of the world’s most water-stressed regions”. So water-stressed that Israel long ago stole the Palestinians’ aquifers and deprived them of access to their own supply. And it made no difference that the criminals were now gearing up to annex even more Palestinian territory.

According to this report 437 MEPs (that’s 62%) from EPP, REG, ECR voted to ratify the EU-Israel Aviation Agreement even though MEP Clare Daly from Ireland warned that doing so “would be perceived as an upgrade in bilateral relations with the state of Israel”. So who are these confused people?

El Al planes are seen parked at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, during a strike by airline workers, April 21, 2013. REUTERS/Nir Elias

The EPP (European People’s Party) Group, the oldest and largest, says: “We must continue to promote human rights and democracy in our relations with third countries.” So, naturally, they have no objection to promoting the Israeli regime in its policy to permanently deny Palestinians their human rights and self-determination.

The REG (Renew Europe Group) would have us believe: “At a time when the rule of law and democracy are under threat in parts of Europe, our Group will stand up for the people who suffer from the illiberal and nationalistic tendencies that we see returning in too many countries.” Oh really?

The ECR Group (European Conservatives & Reformists) declare: “We are the voice of COMMON SENSE.”

As if their behaviour wasn’t bizarre enough, these MEPs then held a separate debate with High Representative Joseph Borrell to discuss EU measures to deter Israel from declaring annexation.

The aviation deal builds on a 2013 agreement. Back then scheduled direct passenger flights connected Israel and 18 EU Member States and the EU was said to be the most important aviation market for Israel, accounting for 57% of scheduled international air passenger movements to and from Israel, and that Israel was one of the most important aviation markets for the EU in the Middle East with a strong growth potential.

The aim now is to take EU-Israel aviation relations to a new level. Higher volumes of tourism in both directions will create additional jobs and economic benefits on both sides. Of course much of the benefit of increased tourism to the Holy Land rightly belongs to the Palestinians if only they were permitted their own airport, but the EU doesn’t seem to care that all visitors to and from the Holy Land are forced through Israel’s Ben Gurion airport – or should we call it Lydda? Thereby hangs an interesting tale….

Growing airline traffic rewards Israeli terror

Strictly speaking Ben Gurion, near Tel Aviv, belongs to the Palestinians. It was formerly Lydda airport; and Lydda, a major town in its own right during the British mandate, was designated Palestinian in the 1947 UN Partition Plan. In July 1948, after Britain left and Israel declared statehood, Israeli terrorist troops seized Lydda, shot up the town and drove out the population as part of the ethnic cleansing and territorial expansion programme set out in their infamous ‘Plan Dalet’. In the process they massacred 426 men, women, and children. 176 of them were slaughtered in the town’s main mosque. See here for the gory details.

Graduation of the first class of the Palestine Flying Service at Lydda Airport in April 1939. Aircraft include VQ-PAH, a Taylorcraft BC used as a trainer by the school; SU-ABQ, a de Havilland Dragon Rapide of Egypt’s Misrair; G-ABTJ ‘Artemis’, an Imperial Airways Armstrong Whitworth Atalanta class, serving the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East; a Handley Page H.P.42 Hannibal class (G-AAUE ‘Hadrian’) of Imperial Airways, flown on routes as far as India; and VQ-PAF, a tri-motor Fokker F.XVIII tri-motor of Hevra Avirit Miskharit. The two aircraft in front of VQ-PAH with graduating pilots are Taylorcrafts VQ-PAI and VQ-PAJ. In the foreground are members of several Jewish organizations. (Israel Government Press Office)

Those who survived were forced to walk into exile in the scalding July heat leaving a trail of bodies — men, women and children — along the way. Israeli troops carried away 1,800 truck loads of loot. Jewish immigrants then flooded in and Lydda was given a Hebrew name, Lod.

So Israel has no real right to Lydda/Lod/Ben Gurion airport — it was stolen in a terror raid, as was so much else. And it’s Israeli terror that is being rewarded by increasing airline flights and boosting tourism and trade.

Today the airport is the international gateway to Israel… and indirectly to Palestine. And what happened to Gaza’s airport? The Oslo II Agreement of 1995 provided for one to be constructed. The Yasser Arafat International airport was built with funding from Japan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Germany and Morocco, and cost $86 million. Arafat and US President Clinton attended the opening in 1998. Owned and operated by the Palestinian Authority it was capable of handling 700,000 passengers a year.

This picture taken on September 9, 2018 shows a view of the destroyed and deserted terminal of the Gaza Strip’s former ‘Yasser Arafat International Airport,’ in the Palestinian enclave’s southern city of Rafah (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

In December 2001 Israel destroyed the radar station and control tower, and cut the runway.

Back to the fiasco with the 437 MEPs who plainly don’t give a four-X about adding to the Palestinians’ misery. Aneta Jerska, the coordinator of the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) says: “Those same political groups whom we heard expressing concern about annexation had just made annexation possible by voting in favour of the EU-Israel Aviation Agreement. This is by any standards the pinnacle of the EU’s hypocrisy. European citizens need to see no more crocodile tears from their elected politicians. The EU must impose sanctions on Israel, as member states once did against apartheid South Africa, including a military embargo on Israel, a ban on trade with illegal settlements and the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Only by ending ‘business as usual’, will Israel feel pressure to change its criminal behaviour.”

Stuart Littlewood
20 June 2020

Author Details
After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics he served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. With a lifelong passion for photography he has produced two photo-documentary books, one of which can be read online at www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk.
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