Small but significant piece of news about the incremental distancing from Israel that is happening in Europe. The Irish government reaction to the forging of passports to kill a Hamas politician in Dubai had been fairly disappointing - the expulsion of a low-level diplomat on a heavy news day. However, this is more significant - the EU commission was proposing that member countries be allowed to transfer their citizens' data to Israel. Ireland objected, citing the forging of passports as reason not to trust Israel. So now the issue will be debated by an EU committee.
This is no spectacular victory, rather its a slow dawning among certain sections of the ruling classes in Europe that there's something a bit fishy about Israel. But perhaps this vague apprehension that they are not 'one of us' will mean that in the future there'll be less resistance to Palestine solidarity work and to Palestinian demands. Eventually anyway.
IPSC welcomes Irish Government move to block transfer of EU citizen data to Israel
Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Press Release, Thursday 8th July 2010, 6.30pm
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) today welcomed the move by Irish Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to block a proposed European Commission data-sharing plan with Israel. If adopted the proposal would have given the green light to EU member states to allow the transfer to and storage of sensitive personal data on European citizens to Israel.
The European Commission proposal was for EU member states to give a green-light to a declaration that the EU recognises Israeli data protection standards as being sufficient to allow member states to transfer sensitive personal data to Israel. Without such a declaration, the transfer of sensitive personal data to Israel is illegal. As a result of the Irish objection, the move will now have to be debated in an EU committee that deals with protection of personal data.
Speaking about the government’s objections to such a declaration, Minister Ahern’s office said: “It may well be the case that Israel provides data protections which meet EU standards, [but] the Minister believes the EU committee has to take very serious account of the forgery of EU passports – including Irish ones – by Israel in recent months. Personal data provided innocently to Israeli officials by Irish citizens was used in forging passports. [This] is a matter of the gravest concern.”
Freda Hughes, Chairperson of the IPSC, today said: “The IPSC welcomes Minister Ahern’s intervention to stop this process. The Israeli state has been routinely committing crimes against the Palestinian people for decades and the EU should not be taking steps to normalise this abusive behaviour by a rogue state. Furthermore, the very idea that EU citizens private data would be provided to Israel after the passport abuse in the Dubai murder is absurd. Israel’s actions have, time and again, proven that it is not a ‘normal’ state and should not be treated as such.”
Ms Hughes concluded with a call to the Irish government: “We understand that this important issue will be discussed at a future meeting of a special data protection committee. We encourage the Irish government to maintain the strong line they have already taken on this issue and refuse to allow Israel access to sensitive data on EU citizens. To allow such a move would leave millions of people open to state-sponsored identity theft of the kind we witnessed in Dubai last January, and indeed would be a tacit acceptance the legitimacy of the such acts of state terrorism carried out by Israel.”