February 19, 2017
Federica Mogherini, Vice President & High Representative
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement
Dear Ms. Mogherini and Mr. Hahn,
We are very concerned about the possibility of another EU-Israel Association Council meeting taking place, and even more that relations with Israel might be upgraded in any way at the present time.
On past evidence, we believe it is incontrovertible that strengthening relations with Israel only convinces right wing Israeli leaders that they can gradually increase the benefits they obtain from the Association Agreement, and simultaneously deepen the occupation and settlement project. That is not surprising given that the goal of the Israeli right wing has never been to end the occupation, but to make it permanent.
It is more than a little disappointing that the Commission is considering upgrading relations after the Knesset has passed the retrospective outpost legalisation bill. Any upgrade now will be seen by Israeli leaders as another proof that they can continue on their present path with impunity. It would be seen by others as hypocrisy. It is obvious that no right wing Israeli government will negotiate meaningfully to end the occupation until it faces heavy diplomatic and economic costs for continuing. Therefore, we urge the Commission not to increase the benefits Israel obtains from the Association Agreement. Rather it should ensure that all member states implement the labeling guidelines, and it should also consider taking further measures.
At the present time, after President Trump has agreed to almost everything Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted at their meeting, it would be doubly unfortunate for the Euroopean Union to give Isreal more as well. It would only reinforce the Israeli government’s belief that it can do as it wishes. Instead, we urge you to concentrate on trying to convince the new American Secretary of State that the United States should not change its long-standing policy towards the conflict. Most of all, we urge you to impress on him that the Palestinians cannot be expected to re-enter negotiations “without pre-conditions”, as Prime Minister Netanyahu demands ad infinitum. As all who understand the conflict know, that would be another way of saying that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are only disputed, not occupied, and that accordingly Israel has as much right to them as the Palestinians do.
That would be a travesty of justice and something that the Palestinians could not possibly accept. It would guarantee a continuation of the conflict and all the bloodshed that comes in its wake. There would also be security implications for America and Europe as Muslims around the world digested the change of American policy.
Dror Feiler, Chair of EJJP, Judar for Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred (Stockholm).
Arthur Goodman, Diplomatic and Parliamentary Liaison officer, JFJFP (London)
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management
Nicholas Westcott, Director Noth Africa & Middle East,EEAS
Raul Fuentes-Milan, Head of Division, OPT & MEPP