For the first time, a European Union-linked body has officially come out with a decision against a boycott of Israeli businesses in Judea and Samaria (Shomron).
The EU declared last year that it would boycott Israeli entities in Judea and Samaria, as an extension of its policy supporting the Palestinian Authority’s claim to territory east of the 1949 armistice line.
However, the conference of the Youth of the European People’s Party [YEPP] – a coalition of centrist and right-wing EU parties – has now voted overwhelmingly against the boycott, with ninety percent opposed.
The European People’s Party [EPP] includes political leaders from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and the party of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It is the largest party in the European Parliament, the European Council, and the current European Commission.
The vote at the YEPP conference, which was held in Budepest, Hungary, follows a year of concerted efforts by the Samaria Regional Council to educate European leaders about the reality of Israeli life in the contested Samaria region. The Council has hosted foreign VIPs on tours of the region, and last September initiated a historic conference in the European Parliament in support of Jews’ right to live in Judea and Samaria.
Samaria leaders expressed satisfaction at the decision. The EPP representatives who voted against the boycott “are Europe’s future leaders,” said Deputy Samaria Council head Yossi Dagan, adding, “Within a few years, most of them will be Members of Parliament and decision-makers.”
The vote “goes to show that those who are exposed to the real situation in Judea and Samaria connect to the region,” he said.
Dagan and others had spoken to EU representatives, warning that a boycott of Judea and Samaria businesses would hurt tens of thousands of employees, among them many thousands of Palestinian Arabs.
Jews and Arabs work side by side in Judea and Samaria factories “in the kind of real coexistence that the European Union preaches,” Dagan said. The radical left-wing groups in Israel funded by the EU “are hurting this coexistence, and creating hate and violence,” he added.
Dagan termed the Samaria Regional Council initiative part of a move “from defense to offense.” Leaders from the region are increasingly taking the initiative in explaining their point of view, he explained, rather than simply defending against EU initiatives hostile to Israeli communities in the area.
Council head Gershon Mesika agreed. “European hostility is not destiny,” he said. “With a lot of work and with effort to show Europe the real situation, we can change the consciousness.”