EU Must Help Defend Rights of Arab-Palestinian Citizens of Israel

A two-day visit of elected members of the Joint List –  the third largest political bloc in the Knesset – to European Union headquarters concluded on Friday, November 10, after a series of meetings with EU officials and parliamentarians during which an urgent appeal was made for the EU to put human rights at the center of its relations with Israel.

MK Touma-Sliman (first on right) during a meeting at the headquarters of the European Union; first from left, MK Jabareen.

MK Touma-Sliman (first on right) during a meeting at the headquarters of the European Union; first from left, MK Jabareen. (Photo: Al Ittihad)

The delegation hosted by European United Left / Nordic Green Left – European Parliamentary Group (GUE/NGL) sought to bring attention to the struggles for equality of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel who comprise 20% of Israel’s population. Taking part were MK Yousef Jabareen (delegation leader; Hadash), MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Chairwoman of the Knessets’s Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality; Hadash), MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and MK Masud Ganaim (Ta’al).

GUE/NGL MEP Martina Michels, member of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Israel, commented: “I am glad to see the development of a progressive opposition in Israel. Real change can only come from inside the Israeli society. The Left in Europe stands in solidarity with progressive forces in Israel in their struggle for a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict, against racism and discrimination, for the protection of human and citizens’ rights, for social and gender equality.”

“Our group’s support for the Palestinian cause must go beyond partnerships in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. I am pleased with our flourishing ties with the Joint List,” the German Left Party MEP added. Martina Michels had taken part a week earlier in the 43rd EP-Knesset joint parliamentary meeting in Jerusalem where she met with members of the Knesset for the Joint List.

Addressing GUE/NGL MEPs, MK Aida Touma-Sliman warned that the “two state solution is at a dangerous junction” due to the expansion of settlements and moves towards annexation by the Israeli far-right government. Members of the delegation underlined that the EU needs to become more active in the international efforts to push for peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians instead of leaving it to President Trump.

Referring to the EU-Israel association agreement, the Joint List sees the human rights clause (Article 2) as a valuable tool for the EU’s diplomatic efforts, in particular to link progress on an end to settlement activity and equal rights for minority groups of which the Arab-Palestinian minority is the largest.

Related: Delegation of Joint List MKs in Brussels to Meet Top EU Officials