MEMBERS of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPAL) Friday urged the European Union to suspend association agreements with Israel due to Israel’s persistent violations of international law.
We express our sincere solidarity with the Palestinian people and their decades-long struggle for freedom, justice and equality. We support the Palestinian right to self-determination and oppose Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid,’ said a statement issued by the delegation at the conclusion of a four-day mission to Palestine.
‘This year, Palestinians marked the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. We witnessed first-hand the impact of the Israel’s occupation in the lives of the Palestinian people who are subjected to daily humiliations and assault on their dignity and freedoms at the hands of Israeli soldiers,’ added the statement.
‘While in Hebron, we were forced to take cover in a Palestinian shop as the Israeli army moved with lethal force against Palestinian residents using tear gas, stun grenades and live fire. Hebron is a microcosm of how the Israeli occupation manifests in practice, with a minority of settlers holding hostage a majority of Palestinians,’ said the delegation.
‘During our mission, we met our counterparts – members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) – and heard promising developments in intra-Palestinian reconciliation. The delegation called for the release of the 13 PLC members currently in Israeli jails as well as the thousands of other Palestinian political prisoners.
‘The delegation said: “We heard directly from the families of prisoners about disturbing accounts of Israeli torture and abuse inside prisons. The economic exploitation of Palestinian prisoners who – in effect– are forced to finance their own imprisonment symbolises the many absurdities of Israel’s occupation.”’
Israel’s continued settlement expansion has meant for Palestinian communities the loss of their homes and denial of access to their lands and livelihood, maintained the statement. We saw how the Israeli army is threatening to expel and wipe-out the Palestinian communities in Khan al-Ahmar where not even the EU-funded school has been spared from destruction by Israeli bulldozers. Their’s is just one example of the fate of dozens such communities.’
The delegation paid tribute in person to the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that since 1949 has supported displaced Palestinians and Palestinian refugees. ”Forced displacement and settlement construction are war crimes under international law and those responsible in the Israeli political and military elite must be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).’
The delegation opposed Israel’s Apartheid Wall in the West Bank and the illegal siege of Gaza. ‘The Wall and the siege have separated Palestinian communities from each other and have separated them from East Jerusalem. ‘The wall brings division, segregation and is illegal, as declared by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The wall must fall! Gaza’s siege must end!
‘Israel’s wall also separates Palestinians in the Occupied Territory with the 1.2 million Palestinians who are second-class citizens of Israel. Israel’s discriminatory laws prohibit marriage between these two classes of Palestinians.
‘We heard from members of the Joint List of Arab parties in Israel about Israeli discriminatory laws – over 40 of them – that directly target Palestinians in Israel,’ noted the delegation. The delegation stressed that: ‘Israel cannot be a democracy for as long as it has laws that discriminate against a large part of its own citizen population on the basis of ethnicity.’
The delegation expressed solidarity to the Mufti of Jerusalem and stated support for the right of Palestinians to exercise religious freedom in the city. This includes opposition to Israeli measures to restrict Palestinian access to the al-Aqsa mosque and Christian holy sites such as checkpoints and surveillance cameras.
‘We continue to be committed to the two-state solution. As Palestinians mark the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation, it is time for the EU to move from words to action. The EU must suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement due to Israel’s persistent violations of international law. The two-state solution will only be achieved when Israel starts feeling the consequences for their illegal actions,’ the statement concluded.
The delegation included GUE/NGL MEPs Neoklis Sylikiotis (Cyprus) – chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Palestine (D-PAL) – Eleonora Forenza (Italy) and Josu Juaristi (Basque country).
• Member of PLO Executive Committee, Hanan Ashrawi, last Thursday described in a press statement President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the UN General Assembly 72nd session as genuine and candid.
‘In his address before the UN General Assembly yesterday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a candid and comprehensive speech in which he addressed the world, as well as the Palestinian people whom he honoured for their courage, determination and resilience,’ Ashrawi said in a press statement.
She added: ‘Abbas spoke with an open heart and mind and affirmed the international community’s “legal, political, moral and humanitarian obligation to end this occupation and enable the Palestinian people to live in freedom and prosperity in their independent state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the June 4, 1967 borders”.
‘By contrast, US President, Donald Trump, totally dropped any mention of peace in the Middle East, and Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu’s speech was one of arrogance, exceptionalism and ideology,’ she remarked.
‘Both attempted to shape the global agenda by a sin of omission by dropping any mention of the occupation and the requirements of peace,’ she added. On the other hand, President Abbas made a genuine plea for a just peace and emphasised the imperative of supporting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and their legitimate aspirations for freedom and self-determination.
‘He clearly laid out the foundations for peace and stability based on international law and conventions and highlighted the consequences of not achieving a two-state solution. He also reiterated his unequivocal support for peaceful popular resistance against the Israeli colonial occupation.
‘Clearly, we are facing a critical moment when it comes to the future of Palestinian sovereignty and statehood. As President Abbas stressed: “… If the two-state solution were to be destroyed due to the creation of a one-state reality with two systems – apartheid – from the unchecked imposition of this occupation that is rejected by our people and the world, this would be a failure, and neither you, nor we, will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine.”
‘If members of the international community are serious about standing on the right side of justice, we call on them to recognise Palestine in the immediate future. As President Abbas said: “We ask all states that recognise Israel to define its borders since recognition requires the delineation of boundaries. The state of Palestine has accepted the 1967 borders as a major historical compromise and as a substantive contribution to peace.”
‘It is our hope that leaders around the world will heed President Abbas’ call and exhibit the will and moral courage required to hold Israel to account, to work to end the occupation within a specific and binding timeframe and to ensure the establishment of a viable sovereign Palestinian state.’