EJJP lobbies Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee against progressing the ACCA with Israel

April, 18, 2012

Dear Foreign Affairs Committee Member,

We are writing to urge you to vote to recommend that the INTA Committee suspends the assent procedure to the ACAA protocol until Israel commits to negotiate in good faith to create a Palestinian state based on the internationally legitimate 4th June 1967 borders (with an agreed land swap for the well understood reasons), to share Jerusalem as the capital of the two states, and to resolve the refugee issue.

We know that some MEPs believe that trade and technical issues, such as the ACAA, should be kept separate from political issues, but we believe that is unrealistic. The current Israeli government’s obdurate refusal to commit to negotiate on the basis of the 4th June ’67 borders and its obvious intention to continue expanding settlements – both within and beyond the big settlements near the Green Line – make it perfectly plain that its true motives are to retain much of the West Bank and its land and water resources, and to keep all or most of Jerusalem. MEPs should also realize that the current government is following the expansionist policies of all Israeli governments since 1967, but more overtly and with much less concern for international opinion.  

The continuation of the occupation will lead to ever greater danger of large-scale regional conflict. The appearance of tacit complicity by the EU will lead to growing security risks in EU countries, and to the risk of de-stabilising relations with Muslim countries and consequent economic risks. Israel’s own long-term security is also being jeopardised, as is the security of Jews all over the world, who, like it or not, are identified with Israel.

The issues for MEPs are therefore whether they actually want to influence Israel to change course, and likewise whether they want the EU to be seen to be seriously trying to do so. If they do, then they have to apply conditionality to Israel by withholding any further enhancements to the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Conversely, granting further enhancements would tell Israel that it can expect further benefits from the EU while still continuing to benefit from the occupation.

The most basic Israeli violations of international law are of course the long occupation and the settlement project itself. The many other violations are part and parcel of Israeli repression of Palestinian resistance. If the EU continues to enhance the EU-Israel Association Agreement, it would inadvertently be supporting the continuation of the vicious cycle of violations of international law and periodic bouts of violence.

MEPs will also appreciate that assenting to the ACAA Protocol would be contrary to declared EU policy in several respects. Firstly, the Treaty of the European Union refers to the obligation of the Union to “ensure consistency between the areas of its external action” (Article 21 TEU). The EU has firmly condemned Israel’s policies and practices that violate international law, as expressed in its 2009 Council Conclusions. Secondly, Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement states that the “Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement”. Thirdly, the revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2011 reaffirmed these principles with respect to relations with all Neighbouring countries, including Israel.

To reiterate, for all of these reasons, we urge you to vote to recommend suspension of the assent procedure to ACAA protocol at the current time.

Yours sincerely,

Dror Feiler, Chair of EJJP and Judar for Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred (Stockholm), Board Member of the EJJP Foundation

Arthur Goodman, Parliamentary and Diplomatic Officer, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (London)

Max Wieselmann, Board Member of the EJJP Foundation, Director of Een Ander Joods Geluid (Amsterdam)