Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Press Release

12 Jun 2008
Letter to Minister Martin re: EU Upgrading Relations With Israel
Dear Minister

In his recent letter to the Taoiseach, Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, expressed deep reservations about the EU upgrading its relationship with Israel under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in present circumstances. As an organisation that campaigns for justice for the Palestinian people, we write to urge you to take note of these reservations.

As Prime Minister Fayyad points out, the ENP is meant to provide incentives for neighbouring states to respect EU values by matching the EU’s relationship with a state to the degree to which that state respects EU values. As the ENP website says:

“The EU offers our neighbours a privileged relationship, building upon a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development). The ENP goes beyond existing relationships to offer a deeper political relationship and economic integration. The level of ambition of the relationship will depend on the extent to which these values are shared.”

In his letter, Prime Minister Fayyad gave numerous examples of Israel’s ongoing failure to respect human rights and international law in the West Bank, for example, its continuing settlement building and its refusal to cease construction of the Wall, in accordance with the July 2004 decision of the International Court of Justice.

In respect of Gaza, John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the Security Council on 26 February that Israel’s economic strangulation of Gaza amounted to “collective punishment and is contrary to international humanitarian law”. Your predecessor, Dermot Ahern agreed with that assessment in the Dail on 11 March, saying:

“I remain deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza. It is unacceptable that Israel should isolate the people of Gaza and cut off essential supplies in order to exert pressure on them to reject Hamas. I agree with the United Nations that this constitutes collective punishment and is illegal under international humanitarian law.”

In addition, we would remind you that Israel is violating over 30 UN Security Council resolutions, dating back to 1968, resolutions that require action by Israel and Israel alone. For example:-

· resolutions 252, 267, 271 and 298 require Israel to reverse its annexation of East Jerusalem,

· resolutions 446, 452 and 465 demand that Israel cease building Jewish settlements in the territories it has occupied since 1967, including in Jerusalem

· resolution 487 calls upon Israel to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA supervision

· resolution 497 demands that Israel reverse its annexation of the Golan Heights, which were captured from Syria in June 1967

Israel reacted to Prime Minister Fayyad sending this letter to European leaders by delaying the handover of revenue it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, under the Paris Economic Protocols it signed in 1994, as an economic appendix to the Oslo Agreement. This is yet another example of Israel’s cavalier attitude towards its international legal obligations. In this case, it was prepared to break its obligations under the Paris Protocols in order to mete out punishment to Palestinians, because their Prime Minister dared to express an opinion of which it disapproved.

In his letter to the Taoiseach, Prime Minister Fayyad stated:

“If the EU were to upgrade its relationship with Israel at this juncture, in view of Israel’s systematic breach of legal obligations and agreements, Palestinians could only view it as rewarding unlawful behavior – and Israel could only interpret it to mean that such behavior and EU calls to stop it, have no consequences. Furthermore, the EU would be depriving itself of an important tool to push the peace process in the right direction, and jeopardizing its ability to play the active political role this region needs and that we, Palestinians, expect and support.”

The IPSC is in complete agreement with that statement and we urge the Government to oppose any upgrading of the EU’s relationship with Israel until such times as Israel ceases its systematic breach of its legal obligations.

Yours sincerely,

Marie Crawley
Chairperson, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

c.c. Marian Harkin MEP
Jim Higgins MEP
Sean O Neachtain MEP
Prionsias de Rossa MEP
Mary Lou McDonald MEP
Gay Mitchell MEP
Eoin Ryan MEP
Liam Aylward MEP
Avril Doyle MEP
Mairead McGuinness MEP
Colm Burke MEP
Brian Crowley MEP
Kathy Sinnott MEP
Jim Nicholson MEP
Jim Allister MEP
Bairbre de Brun MEP
Charlie Mc Creevy EU Commissioner

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