We asked the Supreme Court to strike down this law, but the court has been dragging its feet for several years already, obviously afraid of passing judgment.
YET WHILE we were doing this, the European Union did the opposite. It practically helped to finance the settlements -- the very settlements it declared illegal.
Actually, the new measures are not new at all. The agreement between the EU and Israel exempts Israeli products from European customs, as if Israel were a European country. Israel is already a participant in the European football league, the Eurovision Song Contest and other events and organizations. Israeli universities receive huge research grants from Europe and take part in European scientific projects.
All these agreements are in principle restricted to Israel proper and do not apply to the settlements. Yet for decades, the Brussels super-government had consciously closed both its eyes.
I know, because I myself traveled to Brussels years ago, to protest against this practice, explaining to commissioners, officials and parliamentarians that they are in practice encouraging the settlements and inducing companies to relocate there. I was given to understand that they sympathize with our stand but are powerless, because several European countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, block all attempts in the Union to act against apparent Israeli interests.
It seems that this obstacle has now been overcome. So I am happy.
IN ISRAEL, the government received the news with consternation. Just a few days earlier, they could not have dreamed that this was possible.
In Israel, the European Union is an object of ridicule. Secure in the knowledge that we have absolute control of US policy, we could treat the EU with contempt, though it is our major trading partner. A large share of Israeli exports, including military equipment, goes there.
Government leaders are now sputtering with rage. Not one single politician has dared to speak in favor of the European decision. Right and Left are united in condemning it. Binyamin Netanyahu declared that only Israel would decide where its borders were, and this only in direct negotiations. Never mind that he has obstructed significant direct negotiations for years.
Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Economy, who also happens to be the chief representative of the settlers, rejected the decision out of hand. Only a few days before, this political genius (and self-declared "brother" of Ya'ir Lapid) had announced that there was absolutely no pressure on Israel.
Lapid himself voiced his opinion that the European step was a "miserable decision."
Bennett now proposes to punish Europe by stopping all EU humanitarian projects in the West Bank. (Recalling the joke about the Polish nobleman whose Jew had been beaten up by another nobleman and who threatened: "If you don't stop beating my Jew, I shall beat your Jew!")
But the most telling argument marshalled by Israeli leaders was that the European decision was undermining the valiant efforts of John Kerry to start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
This is the height of chutzpah. For months now, Netanyahu and his government has been doing everything possible to prevent the hapless Kerry from achieving his goal. Now they use his fruitless efforts as a fig leaf for the settlements.
The Labor Party's Shelly Yachimovich, the official "Leader of the Opposition," contented herself with repeating the call for negotiations. No hint of criticizing the settlers, for whom she has publicly declared her sympathy.
AS USUAL in such situations, Israeli public opinion started a search for those to blame. But there is no one around.