The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) brings together 20 organisations from 15 European countries. The ECCP seeks to foster synergies between its member organisations through the exchange of information and the build-up of common actions. Its objectives are to promote the realisation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and a just and sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on United Nations resolutions and International law, to promote the economic and social development in the Occupied Palestinian territories and to enforce international charters and conventions relative to the protection and promotion of Human Rights.
On several occasion, the EU has firmly condemned Israel’s policy of illegal settlements, the continuous blockade of Gaza, house demolitions in East Jerusalem, as the EU does not recognize the Israeli annexation of East-Jerusalem i.a., and reiterated its call for an immediate, sustained, unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian and commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza.
ECCP deplores that the European Union has nonetheless decided to sign an Association Agreement followed by an upgrading of its relationship with Israel and has taken numerous initiatives aimed at strengthening its cooperation with Israel in various fields such as scientific and technical cooperation, transport (Common Aviation Area), agriculture, satellite navigation (Galileo) and police services (EUROPOL).
By granting such an explicit support despite numerous and internationally recognized Israeli violations of international law, the EU finds itself complicit in those violations, as was demonstrated by the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. Indeed, the conclusions of the Barcelona session (March 2010) emphasise both the shortcomings of the EU and its Member States in implementing international law (promoting the right to self-determination, the obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law, universal jurisdiction…) and European law (the Association Agreement, respect for the rule of origin, arms exports to Israel in contradiction with the European code of conduct, products exported from the settlements, Israeli companies actively involved in violations of international law participating in European research programs…).
The failure of the International Community to hold Israel accountable and of the EU and its Member States to comply with the relevant provisions of its own constitution – which reiterates the attachment of the EU to fundamental rights and freedoms – have prompted the civil society to step in and to take action to bring about policy changes.
In this regard, the ECCP endorses the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands seized in 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Furthermore, in October 2008, the Bilbao Initiative – civil society action for justice in Palestine has agreed that the State of Israel must be held legally accountable for its system, which combines apartheid, settler-colonialism and belligerent occupation.
The ECCP also fully supports other popular initiatives, particularly the Free Gaza Movement which aims at breaking the siege of the Gaza strip and the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which works at putting international law at the centre of the Israeli Palestinian issue.
More specifically, concerning the Palestinians within the Palestinian Territories,
1. The economic situation goes on deteriorating while tax-exempted products from Israeli illegal settlements flow into the European markets;
2. The imposition by Israel of a military and economic siege prohibiting the movement of persons, goods and medicines causes the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and the isolation and deprivation of the population of the Gaza Strip;
3. As reported by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict, the Israeli forces committed grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention during the operation cast lead. This included wilful killing, deliberate use of disproportionate force, attacks on civilians who were also used as human shields, torture, inhuman treatment and massive destruction of houses, factories, wells, schools, hospitals, police stations as well as other public buildings;
4. There are between 6,000 and 10,000 political prisoners in Israeli prisons, the majority of which have been imprisoned illegally. 220 children are imprisoned and a further 220 are held without charge under ‘administrative detention’ and are subjected to inhumane conditions and mistreatment and deprived of medical attention and family visits.
Concerning the Palestinians in Israel and the Palestinian refugees,
1. Discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel is pervasive, and no provision in Israel’s constitutional law guarantees Palestinian citizens equality: the Palestinian minority continues to have unequal access to government employment, services, and resources, and Israel maintains separate school systems for Arabs and Jews, with fewer resources and less funding allocated to schools for Palestinians. Additionally, the Palestinian minority suffers from a disproportionate poverty rate. Over half of Palestinian families in Israel are classified as poor, compared to an average poverty rate of one-fifth among all families in Israel according to Adalah’s inequality report.
2. Since 1948, Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons remain in forced exile and continue to await the implementation of their rights. All refugees and displaced persons have the right to return to their homes and repossess their properties and/or to get compensation. These rights are affirmed in International law, UN General Assembly Resolution 194(III) and Security Council Resolution 237 reaffirmed these rights. Refugee participation in the search for durable solutions strengthens democratic principles and structures, lends greater legitimacy to an agreement, and contributes to its long-term durability.
3. 60,000 Bedouins live in 40 unrecognized villages in the Negev. The State of Israel considers them as illegal settlements and therefore refuses to provide public services (e.g electricity, drinking water, sewage, health and educational services). The Israeli authorities seek to forcibly evacuate those villages a great number of which have been destroyed several times.
Concerning Israel itself, we would like to specifically highlight:
1. The fact that Israeli corporations belonging to Israel’s military industry benefit from European Programs, more specifically the 7th Framework Program. These same corporations are involved in the occupation and aggression of the Palestinian people.
2. Israel also takes part in other EU research programmes such as those regarding road safety and environmental research. Although these research funds are devoted to civilian sectors, some of the Israeli companies that are receiving funds for civilian projects are arms companies.
The ECCP asks the European Union to act and intervene urgently:
1. To put an end to the context of impunity that Israel enjoys and to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement and Israeli participation in EU programs as long as Israel does not comply with International Law, International Human Rights Law and the Association Agreement itself (article 2 and art. 83).
2. To take meaningful steps towards supporting the realisation of the fundamental and unalienable right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.
3. To put pressure on the Israeli government to release Palestinian political prisoners, minors and administrative detainees, locked behind bars with no trial or charges; to facilitate and allow medical treatment necessary for all prisoners and grant visiting permits for prisoners’ families in compliance with the General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984 and the IV Geneva convention, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) of November 20 1989.
4. To take immediate effective measures to put pressure on Israel to dismantle all settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem and evacuate the settlers, in compliance with the Security Council resolution 465 of March 1 1980.
5. To take effective measures to press the Israeli Government to dismantle the Wall and its associated regime in the Palestinian Occupied Territories in compliance with the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of July 9, 2004. Moreover, this advisory opinion, acknowledged by the UN General Assembly resolution ES-15/10 of July 20, 2004, calls upon all States Members of the United Nations to comply with their legal obligations as stated in the advisory opinion.
6. To take urgent measures and to put pressure on the Israeli government to put an end to collective punishment resulting from the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, in compliance with the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, notably Article 33.
7. To take concrete actions to ensure the Goldstone recommendations are implemented.
8. To ban the import of goods produced by Israel in illegal settlements of the Occupied Palestinian Territories in compliance with the IV Geneva Convention (1949), notably articles 45, 49 and 55.
9. To take a more active role in fulfilment of Palestinian refugee rights as well as the rights in compliance with UN Security Council resolution 194.
10. To take a more active role in fulfilment of the right of internally displaced Palestinians, in compliance with the IV Geneva Convention (1949), article 49.
11. To put an end to the violence and all discriminations against the Arab minority in Israel in compliance with the EU-Israel Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan (2005), 2.1.
Finally, the ECCP calls upon the EU and its Member States to support their citizens’ initiatives that are taken to promote the implementation of all these rights and obligations, as enshrined in International and European Law.
With these measures, the European Union will take a more active role to solve the Palestinian – Israeli conflict and to help both sides reach a just peace agreement based on the respect for International Law and Human Rights Law, which will contribute to the stability of the region on the whole