EU Foreign Policy Chief Urged to Suspend Israel Association Agreement

BRUSSELS, January 27, 2015 (WAFA) – European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini was urged by a group of members of European Parliament to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the main treaty between the EU and Israel.

According to a press release received from the Mission of Palestine to the EU, a group of 63 influential MEPs have called on Mogherini to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

The group, representing the five biggest parties in the European Parliament, noted that this call constitutes a ‘unique cross-party initiative’ intended to call on the EU to impose tough measures against Israel to hold it accountable for its massacre of more than 2,300 Palestinians in Gaza last summer.

Amnesty International and Palestinian organizations have documented that Israel deliberately targeted civilians and committed other war crimes during its recent onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza. These are serious violations of international law and international humanitarian law that cannot be tolerated,” the group stated.

The group called on the European Commission “to consider the suspension of Association Agreement with Israel unless Israel takes substantial and immediate steps to bring its conduct in line with international law.”

The letter echoes an appeal made in November by more than 300 human rights groups, trade unions and political parties from across Europe, who wrote to Mogherini to demand the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

The EU-Israel Association Agreement, which entered into force in 2000, is the main framework agreement regulating the close relationship and facilitating largely unrestricted trade between the EU and Israel, allowing Israel to participate in more EU programs than any other non-European country.

The group slammed the EU as adopting doubling standards for failing to impose measures against Israel for its violations of international law although it has imposed similar measures on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

“Furthermore, the EU’s lack of substantial action with regards to Israel appears out of step with the speed at which it has implemented restrictive measures on Russia with regards to the Ukraine crisis in recent months, as well as the restrictive measures implemented against more than 30 other countries,” the letter adds.

According to the press release, the EU has issued some of its strongest ever criticisms of Israel since its latest attack on Gaza but is yet to take any substantial measures to hold it to account, although it is understood the EU is currently not willing to upgrade relations with Israel in any way.

In June 2013, the EU announced a ban on its funds being awarded to illegal Israeli settlements, and in 2014 it coordinated member states to issue a statement warning businesses about the legal and political risks associated with doing business in illegal Israeli settlements.

Campaigners say these steps are welcome but that tougher steps such as a ban on economic relations with illegal Israeli settlements and a ban on arms exports to Israel are needed to apply real pressure on Israel to comply with international law.