Daily Israel Report

European Union Exploits Occupied Territories

The EU voted in favor of allowing its members to fish in the waters of occupied Western Sahara, drawing criticism over double standards.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/10/2013, 11:03 AM

Protest for Western Sahara
Protest for Western Sahara
Reuters

The European Union (EU) has voted in favor of allowing its members to fish in the waters of occupied Western Sahara.

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) reported Wednesday that in a meeting of EU ambassadors, “a majority of EU Member States indicated to favor the newly proposed EU-Morocco fisheries protocol, which opens for EU fishing in the waters of occupied Western Sahara.”

Germany ended up supporting the controversial protocol that the Spanish government has lobbied for, said WSRW.

Only Sweden and Denmark voted against the protocol, while Britain, Holland and Finland abstained. These countries’ stances were reportedly “underpinned by concerns relating to sustainable management of the available fish stocks and EU fishing in non-Moroccan waters through a deal with Morocco.”

The move has been viewed as hypocritical by some given the EU's stance on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. 

“The EU is saying that they can directly exploit natural resources in illegally occupied territories,” noted blogger Elder of Zion. “The EU made a big deal over saying that it had no choice but to adhere to guidelines restricting activity with Israeli companies that do business over the Green Line; international law demands it. But it appears that it has no problem with such pesky legalities in the Western Sahara.”

According to Fishelsewhere.eu, the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement states that fishing can take place in “the waters under the sovereignty or jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Morocco.”

However, “no state in the world recognizes Morocco’s claims to Western Sahara,” and yet “Morocco itself views the territory as its own.”

Elder of Zion pointed out that Canada, too, has apparently decided it can take natural resources away from the occupied people of Western Sahara, by dealing with a Moroccan company that does business over the border:

WSRW wrote: “On 24 October, the bulk carrier Ultra Bellambi is scheduled to arrive at Vancouver. On board of the freighter are 60.000 tonnes of phosphate rock from the Bou Craa mines in Western Sahara. The cargo is worth almost $10 million. That money however, will not end up with the Saharawi people of Western Sahara – the original and sole people of the territory – but with the Moroccan regime that has occupied large parts of their country since 1975.

"The phosphate rock was purchased by Calgary based Agrium Inc, under the terms of an agreement it concluded earlier this year with Moroccan state owned company Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP)...A UN Legal Opinion on exploitation of Western Sahara's natural resources is quite clear that such activity is illegal if not done in accordance with the wishes and the interests of the people of the territory – the Saharawi. The latter have unequivocally stated that they do not consent to Agrium's imports, through a letter by their political representation Frente Polisario to the company."

In July, the European Union issued orders forbidding its member states from cooperating, transferring funds, giving scholarships or research grants to bodies in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and even the Golan Heights, which it sees as "occupied territory."

The instruction, promulgated by the European Commission, which is the operative arm of the EU, set parameters for cooperation between the EU and its members states, on the one hand, and Israeli governmental and private elements on the other.

The EU appears to have different parameters for Israel, Morocco and itself, when it comes to "occupied territories."