Foreign Affairs Minister HE Dr. Dimitrij Rupel,
Your Excellency Dr Dimitrij Rupel,
President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council,
Presernova cesta 25,
We, the undersigned Palestinian human rights organisations, understand that an upgrade in the bilateral relations between Israel and the EU was announced after the EU-Israel Association Council meeting in Luxembourg on 16 June 2008 (as reported in a press release on the website of the Slovenian Presidency on 16 June 2008 and in a statement by Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni on 16 June).
Further to our letter of 12 June 2008 ahead of the EU-Israel Association Council meeting which brought to your attention Israel’s persistent violations of international law standards on child protection in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), we write to you again to express our regret and deepest disappointment at the EU’s decision to upgrade ties with Israel. This decision directly contradicts and thus invalidates the EU’s formal commitment to not only hold itself to the highest possible human rights standards, but also to promote these standards worldwide, in its relations with third countries, by virtue of Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The EU must immediately address Israel’s ongoing and grave violations of human rights in the oPt prior to the implementation of any actual upgrade if it is to avoid guilt of double standards, and play its expected part in the peace process as a member of the Quartet.
The foreseen upgrade, particularly the possible integration of Israel into the single market, constitutes a generous political and economic reward for Israel while its human rights violations continue. The EU has demonstrated its intention to strengthen its bilateral relations with Israel is spite of Israel’s disregard towards its obligations under international law, and the absence of concrete steps towards ending the occupation. It is particularly regrettable to contrast the structural difference between the long-term economic advantages afforded to Israel and the short-term humanitarian aid and development assistance to the Palestinians. We believe that only through encouraging Israel to fully comply with its obligations under international law and urging it to work towards the establishment of a viable Palestinian State will the EU effectively support the Palestinian economy while furthering peace, stability, democracy and human rights in the Middle East. Increased and unconditional economic support to Israel can only prolong the status quo.
Therefore, we urge the EU to ensure that, in the process of developing a closer EU-Israel partnership, Israel’s obligations under international law towards the Palestinian population are made central to this process. We recommend the EU to:
- Create a conditional relation between progress towards the EU-Israel upgrade and practical actions taken by Israel to uphold EU human rights standards, in particular with regards to Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, the protection of civilians in the oPt, Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the continuing blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip which amounts to collective punishment, the unlawful detention of civilians, including children, in administrative detention, and travel restrictions imposed on Palestinian human rights defenders;
- Establish formal and transparent mechanisms, along with a timeframe, to assess Israel’s performance and progress in the above-mentioned areas. It is our opinion that the current informal working group on human rights is an insufficient framework for the EU-Israel dialogue on human rights; we suggest the creation of a formal Sub-committee on human rights within the framework of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, as part of the European Neighbourhood Policy;
- Ensure that human rights and civil society organisations in Israel and the oPt are consulted and fully involved in monitoring Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law.
We would welcome your response on this matter, and look forward to receiving further information concerning the timetable leading up to the formal upgrading of the EU’s relations with Israel.
Sahar Francis, Director
Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association
Sha’wan Jabarin, General Director
Mahmoud Abu Rahma, International Coordinator
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights
George Abu Al-Zulof, General Director
Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI/PS)
Mr. Bernard Kouchner, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères, France.
Ms. Riina Kionka, Personal Representative for Human Rights (CFSP) of the EU Secretary-General, High Representative Javier Solana
Ms. Tzipi Livni, MK, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ms. Benita Ferrero- Waldner, Commissioner for External Affairs and European Neighbourhood Policy
Mr. Hans-Gert Poettering, President of the European Parliament
Mr. Ramiro Cibrian, European Commission Delegation to Israel
Mr. John Kjaer, European Commission Delegation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
EU member states’ diplomatic missions to the Palestinian National Authority