My friend Eugene Kontorovich, one of the world’s leading international law experts (on pirates, among other fascinating topics), posted a blog at the Global Post today in which he notes that the European Union is treating Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara as if there is no legal obstacle to ordinary commercial dealings with that territory. That is the correct interpretation, he says–but the EU takes the opposite approach to Israel:
In recent years, Europe has contested Israel’s insistence that its EU agreements do not apply to Israel’s activities in the West Bank. The EU stance has been celebrated by some as an example of European commitment to international law. The EU’s new deal with Morocco appears to be contradicting those principles….
By inventing rules of international law, the EU actually sends the message that Israel might never “comply” with international law, because where Israel is concerned, this “law” is a moving target, that can be concocted from thin air.
Kontorovich notes that Morocco’s occupation is far more aggressive, from a legal point of view, than Israel’s, with deliberate mass transfers of population by the state so that Moroccans may already be a majority of the residents. The double standard, he says, is that “by not holding any other occupation to the same standard, Europe sends…[the] message: it is not the settlements that bother Brussels–rather, it is Israel itself.”