On 11 July 2023, Al-Haq, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) and another 15 Palestinian and international civil society organisations sent a letter to members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the draft report on the EU relations with the Palestinian Authority ahead of the final vote that will take place on 12 July 2023.
The organisations commended the references in the draft report to supporting accountability mechanisms, and the call to withdraw the designation of six Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist organizations. Nonetheless, the organisations stressed that the draft report contains some problematic framing on the premise of peacebuilding, instead of focusing on the international community’s responsibility not to recognize as lawful the internationally wrongful acts of Israel, and to intervene collectively to end Israel’s international crimes. In light of this, the organisations urged MEPs to adopt the following integral points before adopting the final report:
The Root Causes
The letter urged MEPs to explicitly acknowledge and address the root causes of Israeli violations including the ongoing regime of settler colonialism and apartheid. In particular, the organisations stressed that the report should explicitly call on Israel to dismantle its apartheid regime imposed over the Palestinian people as a whole, as well as to immediately end the illegal occupation and not merely the policies and acts within. Furthermore, the letter urged the EU to work toward preventing further illegal annexation in the West Bank, and ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Right to Self-determination
In line with the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, the letter called for the assertation of Palestinians’ sovereignty to all of Jerusalem, and the omission of any reference to “land swaps” in the report, as they violate the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, the prohibition against the threat or use of force to acquire territory, and third-party States’ responsibilities under international law not to recognise or assist the illegal situation stemming from the illegal occupation and the apartheid regime, upon which illegal annexation and settlement policies are implemented.
The Right to Return
The letter to MEPs explicitly urges the EU and its member states to enable and facilitate the return of Palestinian refugees to their original homes and ensure restitution of their property and compensation, as a result of their displacement.
Accountability and Countermeasures
The letter urged the EU to focus its policy with Israel on two pillars; countermeasures and accountability. In particular, the letter called on MEPs to encourage the EU and its member states to submit written statements to the ICJ on the anticipated advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories before the deadline on 25 July 2023. The organisations further called for the support for the Prosecutor of the ICC in advancing the investigation without any further undue delay.
Moreover, the organisations urged MEPs to explicitly call on the EU and its member states to implement economic and diplomatic sanctions, severing cultural ties, ending trade in weapons and military-security cooperation with Israel, as well as banning any economic relations that perpetrate the apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, including by adopting legislation to prohibit trade with illegal Israeli settlements.
Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man
Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights "Hurryyat"
Cultura è Libertà
Defense for Children International – Palestine
Finnish-Arab Friendship Society
International Association of Democratic Lawyers
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center
National Lawyers Guild International Committee
Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC)
Pax Christi Flanders, Belgium
The Civic Coalition for Palestinians Rights in Jerusalem
The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy
The Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling
Please find the letter here.