RAMALLAH, January 19, 2016 (WAFA) – Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, Monday welcomed the conclusions on the Middle East taken by the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council and considered it as a “step forward towards accountability”.
Erekat’s statement came in response to the EU’s decision to require certain products made in settlements be labeled as such.
The EU reportedly reiterated ‘its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscation – including of EU funded projects – evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts and restrictions of movement and access.’
It urged ‘Israel to end all settlement activity and to dismantle the outposts erected since March 2001, in line with prior obligations. Settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States.’
“The EU and its Member States are committed to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products,” stated the EU.
“The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. This does not constitute a boycott of Israel which the EU strongly opposes.”
Erekat commented on the EU conclusions as saying that, “Although we still believe that Europe should take immediate steps, such as banning settlement products, the Council’s conclusion on the Middle East Peace Process is a message to the Israeli government; that no matter how much they invest in imposing and justifying an Apartheid regime in Palestine, this will not be recognized by anyone.”
He reiterated that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.
“We look forward for a greater European involvement, including a call for a multilateral approach in order to end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967.”