April 21, 2009
In What We Can Do
By Palestine Solidarity Campaign
In spite of the Israeli massacres and the continuing blockade of Gaza, and despite the fact that the last Council of Foreign Ministers halted the upgrading of EU-Israel Agreement in December, the European Commission continues to prepare a new ACTION PLAN which will bring Israel vital new economic, commercial and social benefits, bringing it closer than ever to full entry into the EU Community Programmes (see European Union and Israel page)
The freezing of the work on the Action Plan is only temporary and work could resume on May 18th at the next scheduled meeting on the EU-Israel Association Council. We therefore urgently need to apply pressure on the present European Parliament and on the candidates for the next one, so that the civil servants in charge of this upgrade are also put under pressure.
We need to keep demanding the complete suspension of the 9 year old Association Agreement on the grounds that Israel violates Article 2, which states that the ‘provisions of the Agreement itself shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles’.
We should also be asking our MEPs to require the External Affairs Commissioner, Benita Ferrero Waldner, to explain why the EU is continuing to work on the Action Plan with an Israeli government that opposes the 2 state solution and the whole Annapolis peace process. Does the Commission intend to reward the war crimes that Israel committed during Operation Cast Lead with even greater financial benefits and closer relations with the EU? Does one usually reward states that refuse to accept the elements that are central to Europe’s declared position? No!
We must press the EU to take this opportunity to express the outrage that European civil society feels towards Israel in a suspension of relations with Israel until it ends it’s human rights abuses against the Palestinian people and abides by International Law.
MEPs and candidates for the June elections to the European Parliament (find your MEPs at WriteToThem.com)
The Foreign Secretary, The Rt Hon David Miliband MP, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA
The European Commissioner, Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner (fax number 003222981299, email address: benita.ferrero-waldner[at]ec.europa.eu). Copy your letter to your MEPs.
Express your strong wish to see the European Commission acting exclusively within the framework of human rights standards set by International Law.
Suggestions for points to make in your letters:
1) Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which says that “Relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement”
2) Include specific concrete actions that should be included (remove the settlements, end the siege & destruction of Gaza, signing up to the Additional Protocols of the Fourth Geneva Convention etc.)
3) Refer to the fact that agreements with other countries under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) include extensive actions that these states have to take on issues like human rights. For example, the EU-Morocco Action Plan devotes more than two pages to democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and includes concrete objectives to be achieved in the short term and in the medium term.
4) The new EU-Israel Action Plan will have a knock-on effect on the other ENP members. It will be difficult to convince them to improve their human rights records, if the EU does not require the same from Israel.
5) The 1948 Declaration of Universal Human Rights is being weakened by EU’s refusal to apply the same standards on human rights to all the states within the ENP
6) The current EU-Israel Action Plan initiates almost no concrete actions related to resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict and does not require Israel to abide by its obligations under the current peace process. The new EU-Israel Action Plan therefore demonstrates the EU’s failure to deal with both sides in an even handed way.
7) The agreed establishment of the subcommittee for human rights between EU and Israel does in no way substitute for human rights commitments in the Action Plan that should provide the basis for effective functioning of the subcommittee.
8) The Action Plan also needs to include a safeguard clause is necessary to prevent Israel’s application of the benefits of cooperation to settlement activities
To see the current EU-Israel Action Plan, and those of other governments like Egypt, Morocco, Eastern Europe, go to the European Commission’s webpage