The European Parliament (EP) has recently announced that a vote will be held on December 4 to enter into force the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which will enable far greater Israeli participation in European Community programs. Originally, the EU had stated that the vote on this issue would not take place until 2009, but it seems clear that the EU and Israel are attempting to minimize the voice of international civil society by suddenly announcing that it has been moved up to December 4.
The proposed agreement offers to Israel full access to the EU scientific, academic, research and technical programmes, and will significantly deepen EU-Israeli cooperation and integration in many important sectors. It ignores the fact that these sorts of cooperation agreements that increase Israelâs relationships with the international community are one of Israelâs primary means of its ongoing occupation, the displacement of and systematic racial discrimination against the Palestinian people. By engaging in this agreement, the EU sends the message that it effectively condones the Israeli apartheid regime, and that it will not challenge Israel on its massive violations of Palestinian rights.
It is urgent that all civil society organizations, and especially those in Europe, take action against the EU-Israel Association Agreement. We must not submit to the EU and Israelâs attempt to manipulate the democratic process by silencing the voice of civil society. We must respond to this injustice, and we must ensure that our collective voice to oppose the agreement is heard loud and clear.
We therefore ask you to:
1) Send a letter or a fax to your MEP (Pro forma letter attached below. Click here for a list of MEPs);
2) Phone your MEP or meet with them in person;
3) Have your organization, institution, union, or network endorse the Palestinian BNC call against the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and send it to your MEP. (To view the BNC call click here.)
Pro forma letter:
Dear Member of European Parliament,
As a member of your constituency and as a concerned citizen of the world, I urge you to vote against the EU-Israel Association Agreement on December 4. This agreement involves the strengthening of a broad spectrum of ties with Israel â including economic, trade, academic, security and diplomatic relations â at a time when the European Union should be challenging Israel and holding it accountable for its persistent violations of human rights and international law.
The EU is well aware of Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the massive colonization of the latter; after all, the EU member-states have regularly voted for UN resolutions condemning Israel’s human rights violations, collective punishment and construction of settlements and the Wall. Moreover, in 2002 the EU Parliament voted to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement on the grounds of Israelâs violations of human rights. Since these violations are still ongoing, there is no reason for the EU to change its decision to suspend the agreement.
Indeed, Israel still maintains its criminal one-year-long siege on Gaza â described by the current UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Prof. Richard Falk as a “prelude to genocide” â that has already cost the lives of hundreds of patients, mainly children and elderly, all denied freedom of movement to access treatment outside Gaza. Israel’s siege has intentionally and systematically impoverished hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza, more than 50% by now, shutting down most of the industrial sector and ruining agriculture. Most vital infrastructure has been destroyed and the economy has completely collapsed; malnourishment among children has increased sharply, as noted in various UN reports.
Furthermore, Israel has continuously disregarded basic human rights by the enclosure and forced displacement of entire Palestinian communities behind the illegal Wall, the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians without trial, and its policy of extra-judicial assassination. Israel has also stubbornly refused, for over 60 years and despite its obligations under international law, to recognize and implement the right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as stipulated in UNGA resolution 194. Last, but certainly not least, for 60 years, Israel has enacted a system of state-sanctioned racial discrimination against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in vital domains, including land ownership and employment, simply because they are “non-Jews.”
As such, I am appalled that the EU refuses to take concrete action to condemn Israel on any of these accounts. Instead, the EU is proposing to turn a blind eye to Israelâs violations of Palestinian rights by deepening its relations with the occupying power. These sorts of cooperation agreements that increase Israelâs relationships with the international community are one of Israelâs primary means of its ongoing occupation, the displacement of and systematic racial discrimination against the Palestinian people. By engaging in this agreement, the EU sends the message that it effectively condones the Israeli apartheid regime, and that it will not challenge Israel on its massive violations of Palestinian rights.
I therefore urge you, as a representative of the European Union and as a global citizen of conscience, to vote against the EU-Israel Association Agreement. In so doing, you would be heeding the call from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), which represents the entire spectrum of Palestinian civil society, and which has been endorsed by over 100 international organizations, to exert pressure on Israel and to isolate it, rather than to strengthen ties with it (https://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/179). This call was taken up by Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly, who urged the United Nations to consider following the lead of this generation of civil society who are calling for a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations. I believe it is high time that the EU adopt this position as well.
As such, your vote is an important one in suspending the agreement, thereby standing up to injustice in Palestine. I urge you to listen to your constituents, and to the hundreds of civil society organizations from around the world who call upon the EU to stop rapprochement with Israel, and instead to hold it accountable for its ongoing violations of human rights and international law.