Members of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPAL) urged on Friday, September 22, the European Union to suspend association agreements with Israel due to the latter’s persistent violations of international law. The delegation included Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the Confederal Group of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Neoklis Sylikiotis (Cyprus) ‒ chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPAL) ‒ Eleonora Forenza (Italy) and Josu Juaristi (Basque Country). The Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left includes 52 MEPs from 19 different political delegations and 14 Member States.
“We express our sincere solidarity with the Palestinian people and their decades-long struggle for freedom, justice and equality. We support the Palestinian right to self-determination and oppose Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid,” said a statement issued by the delegation at the conclusion of a four-day mission to Palestine.
“This year, Palestinians marked the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. We witnessed first-hand the impact of the Israel’s occupation on the lives of the Palestinian people who are subjected to daily humiliations and assault on their dignity and freedoms at the hands of Israeli soldiers,” added the statement.
“While in Hebron, we were forced to take cover in a Palestinian shop as the Israeli army moved with lethal force against Palestinian residents using tear gas, stun grenades and live fire. Hebron is a microcosm of how the Israeli occupation manifests itself in practice, with a minority of settlers holding hostage a majority of Palestinians,” said the delegation.
“During our mission, we met our counterparts – members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) – and heard about promising developments in intra-Palestinian reconciliation.” The delegation called for the release of the 13 PLC members currently in Israeli jails as well as the thousands of other Palestinian political prisoners.
The delegation said, “We heard directly from the families of prisoners about disturbing accounts of Israeli torture and abuse inside prisons. The economic exploitation of Palestinian prisoners who ‒ in effect ‒ are forced to finance their own imprisonment symbolizes the many absurdities of Israel’s occupation… Israel’s continued settlement expansion has meant for Palestinian communities the loss of their homes and denial of access to their lands and livelihoods, maintained the statement.”
“We saw how the Israeli army is threatening to expel and wipe-out the Palestinian communities in Khan al-Ahmar where not even the EU-funded school has been spared from destruction by Israeli bulldozers. Theirs is just one example of the fate of dozens such communities.”
The delegation paid tribute in person to the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that has supported displaced Palestinians and Palestinian refugees since 1949. “Forced displacement and settlement construction are war crimes under international law and those responsible in the Israeli political and military elite must be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
The delegation expressed its unequivocal opposition to Israel’s Apartheid wall in the West Bank and the illegal siege of Gaza. “The Wall and the siege have separated Palestinian communities from each other and have separated them from East Jerusalem. The wall brings division, segregation and is illegal, as declared by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The wall must fall! Gaza’s siege must end!”
“Israel’s wall also separates Palestinians in the Occupied Territory with the 1.2 million Palestinians who are second-class citizens of Israel. Israel’s discriminatory laws prohibit marriage between these two classes of Palestinians. ‘We heard from members of the Joint List in the Knesset about Israeli discriminatory laws – over 40 of them – that directly target Palestinians in Israel,” noted the delegation. The delegation stressed that, “Israel cannot be a democracy as long as it has laws that discriminate against a large part of its own citizenry on the basis of ethnicity.”
“We continue to be committed to the two-state solution. As Palestinians mark the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation, it is time for the EU to move from words to action…The EU must suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement due to Israel’s persistent violations of international law. The two-state solution will only be achieved when Israel starts feeling the consequences of their illegal actions,” the statement concluded.