Friday, July 27, 2012

Palestinian Rights Groups say EU Betrayed its Principles

Palestine News & Info Agency - WAFA
RAMALLAH, July 26, 2012 (WAFA) - The Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organizations (PCHRO), a coalition of 11 Palestinian rights groups, Thursday strongly denounced European Union decision to upgrade its cooperation with Israel, accusing the EU of betraying its own principles.
The EU-Israel Association Council, which met in Brussels on Tuesday, agreed to developed EU cooperation with Israel by offering it 60 new activities in 15 fields and declared that it would continue technical discussions with Israel aimed at identifying areas for future cooperation.
“As organizations dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), we are strongly concerned about the EU’s lack of commitment to human rights in light of what is essentially an intensification of bilateral relations with Israel,” said a statement issued by the groups.
“In recent months, the EU has made progress in recognizing and condemning Israel’s practices and policies in the OPT which constitute systematic violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. We welcomed the 14 May Council Conclusions which expressed “deep concern about developments on the ground which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible” and waited for words to turn into action from the EU’s side,” it added.
Describing the Association Council meeting as “a step backwards,” the PCHRO said the Association Council statement “comes at a time when Israel is relentless in expanding its illegal settlement enterprise; maintains the continued closure of the Gaza Strip which amounts to collective punishment; continues to revoke residency permits of Palestinians; displaces the Palestinian people, especially those residing in Area C; discriminatorily allocates natural resources, such as land and water; as well as continuing the construction of the Annexation Wall.”
PCHRO said that by agreeing to further develop bilateral relations with Israel, “the EU has failed to adhere to its self-commitment to international law, and appropriately implement the recent EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy which emphasized that the ‘EU is founded on a shared determination to promote peace and stability and to build a world founded on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law’ and that these principles are to underpin EU’s external policies.”
It said, “The recent intensification of relations is certainly not based on consideration of seeking conformity with these legal obligations.”
The Palestinian groups said that “if adherence to international law is to be a corner stone of the EU then it must make a link between its actions and its verbal and written condemnations. As such, the EU needs to stress to Israel that until it shows tangible progress in its compliance with international law it will not benefit from further cooperation with the EU, on the basis of or outside the current EU-Israeli Action Plan.”
“As Palestinian human rights organizations, we are deeply disappointed with the EU’s decision to sideline human rights and humanitarian law when it suits the EU and Israel, and thus oppose the EU’s decision to effectively upgrade its relations with Israel. The recent agreement amounts to the condoning of Israel’s illegal practices and, by virtue of the acquiescence of the EU, contributes to both their continuation and the deterioration of the human rights situation in the OPT,” concluded the statement.