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COHRE Statement: 11 February 2009 -The EU and OECD must not stay silent in the face of Israeli war crimes and human rights abuses

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 16:11
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The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) was one of fifteen human rights, humanitarian and peace organizations, that called on the European Union (EU) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to take strong and immediate action to hold Israel accountable for grave breaches of international humanitarian law and gross violations of international human rights law.


In the light of Israel’s recent military attack on Gaza and the continuing blockade on the Gaza Strip the organizations called on the foreign ministers of EU and OECD member States to urge the annulment of the upgrade of EU-Israel bilateral relations, suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and to halt Israel’s accession to the OECD until:

  • A sustainable and durable ceasefire has been reached
  • Gaza’s border crossings are permanently and unconditionally opened for humanitarian aid and for all civilian imports and exports
  • An independent and impartial investigation is conducted into whether grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and gross violations of human rights law have been committed and the perpetrators brought to justice.
  • Israel complies with all UN Resolutions, the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice and concluding observations of international human rights treaty bodies relating to the human rights of Palestinians.

The organizations, which include Medical Aid for Palestinians, Al Haq, Pax Christi Austria, Defence for Children International –Palestine Section, BADIL, Al Mezan, Habitat International Coalition –Housing and Land Rights Network, Pax Christi Austria, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace-Austria, Arab Association for Human Rights, Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, Action Palestine and Women in Black- Vienna and  International League for Human Rights (FIDH, AEDH Germany), argued that Israel’s military attack on Gaza and continuing violation of the human rights of Palestinians throughout the occupied territory and within Israel itself, demonstrates the need to establish a systematic linkage between human rights and economic relations.
The European Union has committed itself to the highest possible respect for human rights, including in its foreign policy. Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a cooperation agreement which fosters closer bilateral cooperation between the parties and gives Israel preferential access to European markets, states that: “Relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on a respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.” Further, the European Union Guidelines on Promoting Compliance with International Humanitarian Law (2005) call for the imposition of sanctions and other restrictive measures to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and bring perpetrators of violations to justice before domestic courts or an international criminal tribunal such as the International Criminal Court. As High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, European member states are duty bound to ensure Israel’s compliance with the Geneva Conventions (Article 1) and hold perpetrators responsible for grave breaches to account (Article 146). If the EU fails to take action in the light of allegations of war crimes committed against the population of the Gaza Strip and Israel’s ongoing violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people, its commitment to respect for international humanitarian law and human rights in its foreign policy would be severely undermined.
The OECD – the club of economically dominant nations- is also currently considering Israel’s application to join the organization. However, in the ‘Road Map for the accession of Israel to the OECD Convention’, adopted by the OECD Council (the Council) at its 1163rd session on 30 November 2007, the Council noted that in order for Israel to accede to the OECD it must demonstrate its commitment to “fundamental values” shared by all OECD members. These include “a commitment to a pluralist democracy based on the rule of law and a respect of human rights, adherence to open and transparent market economy principles and a shared goal of sustainable development.” It is clear that Israel has failed to meet such criteria.
Information on lobbying the EU and the OECD to call upon Israel to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including a resource pack for civil society and concerned individuals, can be found at www.cohre.org/israel.


Lara El-Jazairi, Legal Officer, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions: lara@cohre.org. Tel: +972 (0)598518046

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