Statement ahead of the EU-Israel Association Council 24 July 2012

Thursday, 12 July 2012 14:11 Ref.: 145/2012
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eu-euromid-aprodevAPRODEV and the EMHRN welcome the upcoming meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council which is an important opportunity for the EU to raise crucial points with Israel related to the implementation of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Since the last Association Council in February 2011, Israel’s respect for human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) has not improved, and in many respects even deteriorated. The recent EU Council conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process issued on 14 May 2012 expressed deep concern about developments on the ground, including in East Jerusalem and Area C, which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.[1] Moreover, these violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) have severely hampered the effectiveness of the EU and Member States’ humanitarian and development policies in the OPT, in some cases directly hindering it. They have also undermined the effective implementation of the EU-PLO interim Association Agreement.

In order to maintain coherence with its declared policy, and in line with the “more for more” approach outlined in the instruments of the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU should condition the opening of new fields of cooperation with Israel - inside or outside of the current Action Plan - on tangible improvements in Israel’s observance of its human rights and IHL obligations towards Palestinians in the OPT and, within its own territory, including towards the 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel. At the 9th EU-Israel association council held on 12 June 2009, the EU stated that the upgrade must be based on respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, good governance and international humanitarian law.[2] While APRODEV and EMHRN understand that the EU no longer envisages an upgrade of its ties with Israel, they believe that conditionality should still apply to any development of EU-Israel relations. For this reason, at the forthcoming EU-Israel Association Council, the EU should send a clear message to Israel that it cannot expect a higher degree of mutual cooperation with the EU for so long as Israel does not respect its international obligations.

Specifically, the EU should, ahead of the upcoming Association Council, immediately define clear human rights and IHL benchmarks which Israel should comply with before expanding bilateral relations with Israel. This would reflect the approach of the renewed ENP which has defined “deep democracy benchmarks” to support democratisation processes in the Arab World.

Benchmarks related to Israel’s human rights and IHL obligations in the OPT should reflect, among others, the following Israeli obligations:

-     Israel’s IHL obligations as an occupying power to protect civilians, and to respect the basic IHL principles of distinction, military necessity and proportionality;

-     The IHL prohibitions on:

-       The right to family life (including measures preventing family unification between Palestinians in Israel and in the OPT);

-     The right to life, including the prohibition on extra-judicial killing;

-     The absolute right to be free from torture and ill-treatment;

-     The fundamental right to freedom of movement;

-     Respect for economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians in the OPT;

-     The right to a fair trial;

-     The fight against impunity.

In line with the above-mentioned benchmarks, the EU should also condition any increased cooperation with Israel on its removal of obstacles to the implementation of the EU-PLO Interim Association Agreement.

Last but not least, the “deep democracy benchmarks” defined by the EU in its renewed ENP approach should also apply to the situation within Israel, specifically regarding freedom of association, expression and assembly, as well as the principle of non-discrimination.[3]

Thematic priorities

At the occasion of the EU-Israel Association Council on 24 July 2012, when the human rights and humanitarian situation in Israel and the OPT are addressed, APRODEV and EMHRN demand to the EU to urge Israel to implement the following recommendations:

  1. Human Rights and IHL in the OPT

Illegal closure of the Gaza Strip

Restrictions to freedom of movement, including the Barrier/Wall

Forced displacement of Palestinians and demolitions of civilian infrastructures in area C of the OPT

Violation of the rights of Palestinians in East Jerusalem

Illegal Settlements built in the occupied territory

 Culture of impunity in Israel

 

 

2. Human Rights in Israel

 Rights of the Palestinian Arab Minority

Rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons

Rights of migrants and refugees

Click here to download the  "Background note – additional information on the thematic priorities"

 


[1] Council of the European Union (2012), “Council conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process”, Brussels, 14 May 2012, available at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/130195.pdf.

[2] Council of the European Union (2009), “Relations with Israel – Adoption of the European Union’s position for the Association Council’s Ninth meeting”, Luxembourg, 15 June 2009, Brussels, 12 June 2009, available at http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/09/st10/st10709-re03.en09.pdf.

[3] This could include the following benchmark: “Guarantee to persons belonging to national minorities the right to equality under the law and equal protection of the law, and prohibit any discrimination based on national belonging”. For more detailed actions see the EMHRN report “The EU and the Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel”, February 2012, p. 61, available at http://www.euromedrights.org/files.php?force&file=2011_EMHRN_Adalah_HRA_Report___EU___Arab_minority_in_Israel_415492201.pdf.