May 14, 2021
Josep Borrell Fontelles
High Represenative & Vice President
Dear High Representative,
We are writing to express our deep concern about the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians. As of today, more than 115 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed.
While the rocket attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the Israeli army’s attacks on Gaza have accounted for most casualties, the violence began in Jerusalem with the Israeli police’s increasingly brutal tactics in repressing Palestinians protesting against being evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. The police also blockaded the Damascus Gate to the Old City and stormed the Al Aksa Mosque to expel alleged stone throwers. The tensions have spread to inter-communal violence between Jews and Palestinians in Israeli cities.
As we are sure you understand, the roots of the violence lie in the 54-year occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and the concomitant denial of Palestinians’ rights. The Palestinians resist, Israel represses them, and tensions escalate periodically into large-scale violence.
As long as Israel persists in the occupation, the cycles of violence will be repeated. The current cycle could lead to a fifth assault on Gaza, with Palestinian casualties in the thousands. We urge you, therefore, to make every effort to persuade the Israeli government, Hamas and Islamic Jihad to agree an immediate ceasefire.
However, beyond that, experience has shown that criticism by the international community or appeals to Israel’s best interests do not bring about long term change in Israeli policies, especially with right-wing Israeli governments. We also urge you, therefore, to make it clear to the Israeli Government that the European Union will impose consequences on Israel if it does not agree to negotiate meaningfully to end the occupation.
Dror Feiler, Chair
Arthur Goodman, Parliamentary and Diplomatic Officer
Neal Mac Call, Head of Division MENA.2
Sven Koopmans, Special Representative, Middle East Peace Process