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Joint Open Letter to the EU:
Ref.: 246/2012
02، Nov 2012

Palestinian human rights organisations will not attend the civil society consultations ahead of the  EU-Israel Informal Working Group on Human Rights and International Organisations.

Dear EU High Representative, Commissioner Füle, EU Special Representative for Human Rights and Representatives of the MAMA council working group,

Joint Open Letter to the EUAs is the custom, this year’s EU-Israel Informal Working Group on Human Rights and International Organisations (Informal WG) will be preceded by a civil society consultation in Brussels with the EU External Action Service, and in Tel Aviv with the EU representative office. This year, the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC) has decided not to participate in such consultations in light of the following:


    1. the Informal WG is an insufficient mechanism and must be transformed into a full-fledged sub-committee on human rights, addressing the full range of Israel’s human rights obligations, including those owed to the occupied Palestinian people;
    2. the Informal WG does not address Israel’s human rights obligations towards the occupied Palestinian people, nor does the EU and Israel intend for these rights to be discussed in this forum; and
    3. the EU has excluded Palestinian civil society in the OPT from its consultations ahead of the Informal WG.

While we welcome the EU’s repeated calls on Israel to establish a sub-committee on human rights and democratic governance within the framework of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the lack of clarity on whether this mechanism will address the full range of Israel’s human rights obligations, including those owed towards the occupied Palestinian people, is of great concern. This view is bolstered by the fact that the EU supported the establishment of the current Informal WG, which only addresses human rights violations related to Israel proper. Such an arrangement is legally untenable and is devised solely to accommodate Israel’s claim that, as an Occupying Power, it does not have any human rights obligations towards the occupied Palestinian people – an assertion that has been unequivocally rejected by the International Court of Justice, the United Nations, as well as by the EU itself.

The EU’s acquiescence to Israel’s claim runs contrary to the EU’s obligation to coherently and consistently address human rights concerns with its neighbouring countries, to reinforce its human rights dialogues in accordance with the new European Neighbourhood Policy, and to ensure that human rights take centre stage in EU’s external relations.

Whilst acknowledging that the EU addresses Israel’s human rights obligations towards the occupied Palestinian people in the EU-Israel Sub-committee on Political Dialogue and Cooperation, it must be stressed that raising human rights issues in this political forum allows for such concerns to be tainted by political considerations and to become a side note to other aspects of EU-Israel relations. In the interest of a strengthened human rights dialogue with all its neighbouring countries, the EU must ensure that human rights concerns are raised within an appropriate forum, without becoming a bargaining chip in political negotiations.

Finally, we are concerned about the EU’s failure to consult with Palestinian civil society organisations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) ahead of its Informal WG. The EU once again did not invite Palestinian civil society organisations to the consultation arranged in Tel Aviv. Furthermore, by arranging a consultation in Tel Aviv, the EU failed to take into consideration Israel’s violation of the Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement, as most Palestinians are prevented from entering Israel and therefore cannot attend such a meeting. Palestinian civil society organisations are directly concerned parties that should be consulted ahead of the EU-Israeli dialogue on Israel’s human rights obligations. By setting up a civil society consultation in Tel Aviv, the EU is effectively excluding Palestinian civil society representatives and human rights defenders from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, from presenting their concerns to the EU.

As the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council, we can no longer participate in a human rights dialogue which serves Israel’s interests whilst overlooking Israel’s violations of Palestinians’ human rights. In light of the above, we cannot participate in the civil society consultations with the EU ahead of the Informal WG, as this would tacitly legitimise Israel’s manipulation of international law and undermine our genuine commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights in the OPT.


Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC):

Adameer Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Sahar Francis
General Director

Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Khalil Abu Shammala
General Director


Shawan Jabarin
General Director

Mezan Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Issam Younis
General Director

Arab Association for Human Rights 


Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minorities in Israel


Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Najwa Darwish
General Director


Defence for Children International
Palestine Section
Rifat Kassis
General Director


Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Shawqi Issa
General Director


Hurryyat - Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Helmi Al-araj
General Director


Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Issam Aruri
General Director


Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Iyad Barghouti
General Director


Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling
Maha Abu Dayyeh
General Director


Palestinian Society Prisoner's Club


Physicians for Human Rights Israel

TORTURE-LOGO The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel

This letter is also endorsed by:

  • The Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi and all political prisoners
  • The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat

For more information, Please contact:

Nada Kiswanson 
EU Advocacy Officer/Legal Researcher
The Netherlands and Brussels Office:
Tel: 0031(0)616730784 / 0032(0)472028216
Palestine Headquarters:
P.O Box: 1413
54 Main Street 2nd and 3rd Floor, Saint Andrews Evangelical Church
Palestine - Ramallah - West Bank
Tel: 00970(2)22954646/7/9