Is Europe Planning Seal of Approval for Israeli Settlers?

Israel Set to Join Club of Richest Nations

An exclusive club of the world’s most developed countries is poised to admit Israel as a member even though, a confidential internal document indicates, doing so will amount to endorsing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territories.

Israel has been told that its accession to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is all but assured when the 30 member states meet in May.

But a draft OECD report concedes that Israel has breached one of the organisation’s key requirements on providing accurate and transparent data on its economic activity.

The information supplied by Israel, the report notes, includes not only the economic activity of its citizens inside its recognised borders but also Jewish settlers who live in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan in violation of international law.

Israel’s accession to the OECD on such terms threatens to severely embarrass many of the organisation’s member states, especially those in the European Union that are publicly committed to avoiding collusion with the occupation.

The OECD report proposes that these legal difficulties may be circumvented by asking Israel to produce new statistics within a year of its accession excluding the settler population – even though, an OECD official has admitted, Israel would have the power to veto such a demand after it becomes a member.

“The OECD seems to be so determined to get Israel through its door that it is prepared to cover up the crimes of the occupation,” said Shir Hever, a Jerusalem-based economist.

Israel has been lobbying for nearly 20 years to be admitted to the OECD, founded in 1961 for wealthy industrialised democracies to meet and co-ordinate economic and social policies. It includes the United States and most of Europe.

“The financial privileges are relatively modest, but there is great prestige to being accepted,” Mr Hever said. “Israel has worked so hard to gain admission because it believes accession will confer international legitimacy on its occupation.”

Several countries with a lower development level than Israel have already been accepted, including Turkey, Mexico and the Czech Republic.

Israel’s past rejections, it is widely assumed, were because many states were uncomfortable about admitting Israel while it was occupying the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank and the Syrian-owned Golan Heights.

However, Israel was formally invited to begin discussions about membership in 2007 after intense lobbying by Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel. Membership is expected to bring financial stability to Israel’s economy, attract investment and reduce the country’s risk premium.

The OECD’s secretary general, Angel Gurria, visited in January, after a review of Israel’s economy, and suggested that admission this year was a certainty.

However, a leaked draft report by the OECD’s committee on statistics, produced last month after the review, shows there are major problems with the data presented by Israel.

According to its rules, the OECD takes account of economic activity outside a candidate state’s recognised borders in very limited circumstances, such as with remittances from migrant workers.

But given that this status does not apply to the illegal settlers living in the occupied territories, the OECD committee argues that either the settlers be excluded from the data or everyone living in the territories – including Palestinians – should be factored in.

“Israel has been caught out because it has always refused, even in its own internal data, to differentiate between Israel and the occupied territories,” Mr Hever said. Both East Jerusalem and the Golan have been annexed by Israel in violation of international law.

“The OECD is treating Israel as though it has seven million citizens when, in reality, it has 11 million subjects, of whom four million are Palestinians living under occupation,” Mr Hever said. “If they were included in the figures submitted to the OECD, Israel would have to be refused accession because of the enormous disparities in wealth.”

Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, noted recently that there was a 20:1 ratio in the difference in gross domestic product per capita between an Israeli and a Palestinian living in Gaza.

But rather than conclude that Israel has failed to meet the organisation’s entry criteria, the committee proposes a workaround: Israel can be accepted to the organisation and given a year to submit new data excluding the settlers.

Tim Davis, an OECD official with the statistics committee in Paris, said he could not comment on the report because its contents were confidential but agreed that there was nothing to stop Israel reneging on such a commitment in the future. “In a case like that, nothing could be done in practice. We work on the basis of co-operation, not pressure.”

Israel is reported to have failed other entry conditions, including on corruption and copyright violations.

The OECD has required member states to crack down on corrupt practices since it approved a convention against bribery in 1997. Israel, however, was ranked in 32nd place in a major index on corruption last year, with much of it relating to the country’s $6 billion arms industry.

European and US defence firms have threatened to derail Israel’s OECD bid if it does not clean up its act.

Israel is also believed to be violating intellectual property rights, again in breach of OECD rules. US and Swiss firms have accused Israel of failing to regulate the international marketing of drugs produced by its largest pharmaceuticals company, Teva.

Israel’s bid for OECD membership has been opposed by the leaders of its Arab minority, one-fifth of the population. Last month the Higher Follow-Up Committee, the minority’s main political body, petitioned the OECD to reject Israel.

It has pointed out that half of Israel’s Arab citizens are living below the poverty line, a rate three times higher than among Israeli Jews, and that on average Arab citizens earn salaries that are one-third less than Jews. Mohammed Zeidan, head of the committee, blamed the disparities in wealth on what he called Israel’s “racist and discriminatory polices”.

Another OECD report, published in January, showed that, even on the basis of Israel’s figures excluding the Palestinians, Israel would still have the widest social gaps of any member state if it were accepted.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. MichaelKenny said on March 8th, 2010 at 9:43am #

    The title is a lovely piece of disinformation, which I assume is designed to divert attention from the recent decision of the EU Court of Justice that goods produced in the settlements cannot be imported in the EU as Israeli goods under the EU-Israel trade agreement but must be imported as Palestinian goods, under the EU-Palestine agreement, i.e with the consent of the Palestinian Government. That decision is binding on all 27 EU Member States and on states that join later. OECD membership will cahnge nothing in that regard. Thus, the answer to the question in the title is a resounding “NO”. Quite the contrary, indeed!

  2. Ismail Zayid said on March 8th, 2010 at 2:49pm #

    Jonathan Cook seems to forget that Israel is above international law. As far as Israel is concerned, its illegal occupation of Arab territories, violation of Security Council resolutions and international law, are meaningless. The OECD countries know that and their Entry Criteria will be waived away accordingly.

  3. mary said on March 9th, 2010 at 12:04pm #

    Rather a lot of mud to throw in Joe’s eye isn’t it? No way to greet the VP.

    Israel approved the construction of 1,600 new homes for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem on Tuesday — a move that immediately clouded a visit by Vice President Joe Biden aimed at repairing strained ties and kickstarting Mideast peace talks.


  4. mary said on March 10th, 2010 at 3:45am #

    This e-mail came in this morning –

    This below is a vile record of the attitudes and actions of Zionist Jews and their very extensive mafia. You will see ‘Friends of Israel’ etc. Note the largest bloc supporting the breaches of all international human rights law, moral law and the laws of war is the ”Christian Democrats’. Once more Christ is traduced. Note also the ‘Socialist’ bloc’s position. A motion calling on the siege to be lifted. Vital laws are being broken – the passing of motions is insufficient. The siege is totally illegal and amoral – another way of trampling the Palestinians into the sand.

    Nuremberg never happened.

    I said this last night at a meeting of Exeter University student Friends of Palestine. Two women spoke from ‘East’ Jerusalem. The stories of Leila Sharif through an interpreter were of the familiar barbarism. She spoke of the treatment of her husband for his lung cancer. The Israelis, finally, would not allow his body to go home to El Khalil- Palestinian/Jerusalem IDs etc. I asked if the 3 children had seen their Daddy before he was laid to rest. No – of course not. Hurt the native in every way possible. As I say – they are in every pore and crevice of the Palestinian body. These people who have stolen this beautiful land and their people have lost any right to the land.

    For truth


    *Jewish lobbying sways EU against support of Goldstone Gaza report *

  5. kalidas said on March 10th, 2010 at 9:32am #

    *Jewish lobbying sways EU against support of Goldstone Gaza report *

    Huh… And here I thought the Zionist millionaires were quaking in their soon to be foreclosed on boots.

    Names changing faster than you can say Rip Van Winkle.

    Teeth gnashing and hand wringing reaching epic proportions.
    (if you can imagine that)

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain said on March 10th, 2010 at 10:01am #

    Isn’t it grand mary, how naked is the dominance, in the West, of the worst elements of this tiny, infinitely arrogant and narcissistic tribe, so preposterous both their incessant demands and the craven cowardice of Western elites and so complete the moral debacle that it represents. As well as this belligerent demand that Israeli child murder be swept, yet again, under the carpet, but as Counterpunch magazine outlines, Israeli moves to destroy the entire edifice of international humanitarian law are intensifying.
    Apparently the efforts of millions over decades, to forge a body of international law that protects innocents from murder, abuse and threat, are directly in the gunsights of our Zionist masters. Israeli Death Force ‘lawyers’, Israeli ‘philosophers’ and Israeli fascists, and their Sabbat Goy collaborators, not content with Israel’s repeated desecration of humanitarian law are planning to impose their, religiously based, doctrines of hatred and murder onto the rest of the planet. They are openly proclaiming their intention to re-define civilians in areas controlled by ‘terrorists’, eg Gaza, Lebanon and anywhere Zionism is resisted (Exeter, perhaps, one day, if you don’t look out)as terrorists, who, naturally, can then be slaughtered at will. Moreover in a twist that smacks of chutzpah in all its glory, IDF murderers are to be re-defined as ‘civilians in uniform’, representing a Holy State to boot. At the same time these unbelievably vicious hypocrites, who defile every humanitarian convention on the books, every day, are proposing a convention against suicide (or if you prefer ‘martyr’ )bombing. In other words not content with overwhelming military dominance which they use with wicked lack of restraint to obliterate their victims, they now propose to outlaw their caged victims their one method of resisting and striking back at their tormentors.
    One of these fascists boasted that Israel will get away with it simply by committing atrocities and not being held to account, thus pushing the world to adopt a sickening parody of humanitarian law that actually justifies the murder of civilians. That this vile project mirrors precisely Judaic religious law, which we know sees Jews as a higher form of existence than non-Jews, and that sees the murder of ‘enemy’ civilians as a holy, sanctified, act, shows that Israel has passed from merely being a racist, fascist, terror state to being the spearhead of a concerted effort by Western fascism to drive the world back to an era of unbridled Western bloodlust and massacre across the non-Western world. This also mirrors the intense supremacism and aggression of the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ mentality,itself also a product of Zionist racism and supremacism. Israel,along with its puppet hyperpower, which they insult and humiliate daily,illustrating beautifully where power really lies in this ‘special relationship’, no matter how many little hats Biden dons as his hosts piss on him and laugh at his ‘protests’, has become the greatest threat not just to peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond, but to the entire concept of shared humanity across the world, but, of course, that is a concept that they never accepted.

  7. mary said on March 10th, 2010 at 12:34pm #

    Hurray! Goldstone report adopted in spite of the Israeli lobbying.

    This is one of our pro Israel MEPs earlier. Posted on medialens

    This is a response
    Posted by redadare on March 10, 2010, 6:32 pm, in reply to “URGENT : Contact Your MEPs re GOLDSTONE REPORT …”

    This response from Geoffrey van Orden MEP (for MEP read Master of Extrodinary Propaganda). I will respond, but with people like this elected, what can we do?

    “Thank you for your email concerning the Goldstone report.

    I have enormous sympathy for the ordinary Palestinian people, but for 60 years they have been let down by those that claim to lead them and those amongst them whose profession is terrorism.

    The ECR Group recognises the sole authority of PA President Abbas and believes the Hamas controlled Gaza strip continues to pose a serious security threat to Israel which is therefore entitled to interdict the flow of military and dual use technology as well as terrorist movements, provided foods, medicines and basic goods are still available to the civilian population.

    Without doubt the Goldstone report raises some serious accusations of war crimes perpetrated by both sides. However, the report seeks to equate Hamas, a banned terrorist organisation with Israel, a democratic state, acting in self defence against rocket attacks on its civilian areas. The report fails to take into account that Israel has investigated 150 reports of breaches of the rules of war and some 30 cases are likely to lead to criminal indictments of IDF personnel and already two soldiers have been arraigned for inappropriate use of white phosphorus in civilian areas. It fails to take into account also that Hamas used civilian areas to launch military attacks i.e. human shields.

    For the above reasons the ECR felt it necessary to vote against the implementation of the Goldstone report.

    Best regards, Geoffrey”


    Tough shit Geoffrey!

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain said on March 11th, 2010 at 6:18am #

    mary, these are plainly, in my opinion at least, the words of a fool, a liar and a hypocrite. The Zionazis retain the support of people untroubled by the deliberate murder of children, racists who despise Arabs, Moslems and lesser types and those that they have bought. We all know that Zionist Jews run the West’s politics, we see it every day in the craven support for Zionazism, but it is simply denied. We know that the Zionazis control the Western media because we can see the ownership plainly outlined and we can read the product with its insane bias and steady descent into fascist extremity. I mean, I wasn’t surprised to see an ‘opinion writer’ in The Independent call not just for torture of suspects, but torture of their family as well, but it still shocks when seen in the text. Then there is the chilling realisation that the paper’s management found such vile opinion worthy of publication. Of course the whole Nazi argument was couched in plain Zionist doublespeak, the ‘ticking bomb’ obscenity, endlessly reiterated by the Zionazis and their Sabbat Goy stooges for some time now.
    I saw, too, another example of the Zionazi ambition to change the world, for the worse (which, of course, suits them and other fascists)with some slithering creep, speaking of the 1200 new colonies to infest East Jerusalem, absolutely against international law, boasting of how the Zionazis will simply go ahead, and the goyim will just have to cop it. It is a truly dangerous situation when a psychopath feels so emboldened by total impunity to international law and by the absolute absence of any scruples in driving his victims into the dust. The psychopath’s behaviour, only restrained by fear of punishment or retribution, must simply grow more extreme, as with serial killers, as the psychopathological high they gain from earlier atrocities begins to fade. They require greater and greater stimulation to get their kicks, in Israel’s case, greater and greater massacres. I firmly believe that the trajectory we see in Israel, of viler and viler regimes, populated by more and more vicious religious and political fundamentalist zealots, and in the evil fraction of the Jewish diaspora whose belligerence, arrogance and threats are likewise growing daily, must lead to a real cataclysm.I think Israel is eminently capable of a gigantic massacre, possibly involving its hundreds,or is it thousands, of nuclear weapons. In the end Zionism represents precisely that project apparently outlined in the allegedly fraudulent ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’-a concerted effort to make Israel the dictator of global power relations, the centre of financial malfeasance in a global neo-feudal system of radical inequality and the sole arbiter of a new international system of law, based on a hierarchy of races and cultures, with Israel and the Jews at the apex.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on March 11th, 2010 at 9:48am #

    mary, I’ve just been reading some really chilling stuff. George Gilders, who I seem to remember hawking his far, far Right wares around the Reagan pathocracy, has apparently published a tract where he states that support for Israel is the supreme test of worthiness in the world, because Jews are, well, let’s be frank,the supreme beings on the planet. The most talented, most noble, best, loveliest (he goes on a bit) group of humans anywhere, ever. All opposition to Israel (you know those pesky untermenschen in the Gaza holiday camp) is driven by envy,viciousness and evil. Israel is perfection itself, all good etc, etc ad nauseam. Gilders is,apparently,a Sabbat Goy, but a really, really enthusiastic one. His ravings reminded me of something I saw from the detestable Bernard-Henry Levy, so recently exposed as a buffoon with his conversion to the mock philosophy of ‘Botulism’ (brain the size of a planet temporarily in service, perhaps?) a couple of years ago. The arch poseur was ranting on about how ‘anti-Semitism’ was behind all resistance to the policies of the Bushites, which, on reflection, contains a grain of truth, if you have regard to how thoroughly Zionist Jews controlled the Bush agenda and how even more completely they control Obama.
    I must say I’m somewhat astonished, but certainly not surprised to see how Judaic messianism is growing like topsy. I don’t doubt that a decent, civilised Israel, that does not delight in child-murder, torture and terror, could benefit humanity greatly.Unfortunately it is plain that Israel has been captured by religious zealots who see all non-Jews, even enthusiastic sycophants like Gilders, as untermenschen. The idea that Jews represent a ‘chosen race’ of superior intellects is as pernicious and false as the idea that whites are superior to blacks, or Chinese to ‘Hispanics’ or Afrikaaners to Eskimos. Belief in this sort of vile racist garbage led Germans into a Hell of genocidal violence against ‘inferior’ races seventy years ago,and real friends of Jewry ought to be unceasing in their condemnation of similar crazed delusions amongst Jews today.

  10. mary said on March 11th, 2010 at 9:59am #

    For a moment I thought we had a spoonerism going and that you were talking about Geert Wilders who has been back in the UK showing his hate Islam film FITNA under the auspices of Baroness Cox and Lord Pearson! Wikipedia have good pages on these loathsome Establishment types.

    I will look up this George Gilders in the meantime. Thanks Mulga as ever for your input.