JfJfP/EJJP action on or statements relating to the EU-Israel Association Agreement
1. Campaign information from JfJfP (this was last updated 19 Jul 2004)
3. Behind the scenes of the EC Guidelines, 15 Sep 2013
2. Comments on the possible upgrading of the EU-Israel Association Agreement
Arthur Goodman for JfJfP, 10 June 2008
As we understand it, there is an intention to upgrade the agreement in the form of a political declaration, rather than a new agreement, which will give Israel access to increased EU programming and will state clearly that there is a special relationship between the EU and Israel. The issue of Israel’s compliance with the Association Agreement’s human rights requirement will not, however, be mentioned. Amnesty International and other NGOs will be making a formal representation to the Council and the Commission.
Article 2 of the Association Agreement states “Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.”
Our firm views are:
(1) Israel’s policies in the occupied territories violate the Agreement’s human rights requirement in fundamental ways, and have always done so. The most fundamental violation, from which the rest follows, is the expansion of the settlement project itself, which violates the prohibition of the Fourth Geneva Convention against an occupying power transferring its own population into occupied land. Far from ceasing settlement expansion since being admitted to the Association Agreement in 2000, Israel has continued expansion apace and continues building new settlement housing and infrastructure to this day.
(2) Once the Palestinians started resisting the occupation and settlement in the 1970s, Israel commenced its repressive measures, which also continue to this day. There is a vicious cycle of occupation and settlement, resistance, and repression. The most important repressive measures also violate the human rights provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and therefore must be said to violate the Association Agreement’s human rights requirement.
(a) Demolition of Palestinian homes because they were built without Israeli government permission, even though they were built on land owned by the Palestinians in question. According to Peace Now, 94% of Palestinian applications to build homes in the occupied territories are refused.
(b) Demolition of Palestinian homes as punishment of the families of a Palestinian who resisted the occupation. Even when the resistance took the form of attacking Israeli civilians, there is no justification for punishing the family.
(c) Demolition of Palestinian homes to make way for the Separation wall.
(d) Building the Separation Wall in the 80% of its route which encroaches into the occupied territories in order to encompass the big Israeli settlements near the Green Line. The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that the wall is illegal where it encroaches. In effect, the Court said that it could not be legal to take Palestinian land to protect settlements which are themselves illegal.
(e) Some 8,500 Palestinians from the occupied territories are held in prisons in Israel, instead of in the occupied territories
(f) Families are denied visits to their relatives in prisons in Israel, because the Israeli authorities deem the family members to be security risks.
(g) More than 800 Palestinians are currently held by Israel in administrative detention, i.e. without charge or trial. This procedure allows detention for six months, and the detention orders can be renewed ad infinitum.
(h) Israel is causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza by inflicting grave collective punishment on the population for having voted Hams into office. Israel is severely restricting fuel supplies, electricity supplies, and supply of spare parts for essential infrastructure. These measures severely restrict water supply, sanitation and hospital care. It severely restricts import of essential foodstuffs, which is causing growing malnutrition. It prohibits exports, which has caused Gaza industrial production virtually to cease. Finally, it severely restricts access to essential medical treatment outside Gaza.
(3) Based on the pattern of behaviour over many decades, it is evident that favourable treatment will never cause Israel to relinquish the 40% or so of the West Bank, along with control of its water resources, that it wishes to keep. Rather, continued concessions by the West will merely confirm successive Israeli governments in their view that the United States and the EU will continue to turn a blind eye to what Israel is doing. This will result, not in Palestinian acquiescence, but in renewed violence as Palestinian resistance continues and increases.
(4) It is therefore our view that the EU should not upgrade Israel’s relationship under the Association Agreement, and indeed should suspend Israel’s benefits, until such time as Israel ceases to violate the human rights provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. We appreciate that the European Union Council has always been reluctant to take a firm line with Israel vis-a-vis the human rights requirement of the Agreement, and certainly does not appear to be ready to do so now. However, we believe the EU’s current policy will prove, in not too many years, to be counter-productive in the extreme.
(5) Israeli and Palestinian demographics will play into this scenario in a way so far little understood. There are already nearly twice as many Palestinian boys as there are Jewish Israeli boy under age 16, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and the disparity will increase because the Palestinian population growth rate is twice that of Jewish Israelis. The para-military balance between the Palestinians and Israel will steadily shift towards the Palestinians as these boys become the young men of fighting age. The young Palestinians will be full of bitter hatred of Israel. They will be determined fighters. Add to this the Hezbollah, which is now assisting Hamas with training and tactics. Consider how well Hezbollah fought against the Israel Defense Forces in the 2006 summer war. Very bluntly, they held their ground and inflicted heavy losses on the IDF. In the end, Israel was pressing for the cease-fire.
(6) Therefore a concern for Israel’s future security, Palestinian rights and a resolution to the conflict, all point to taking a firm line with Israel regarding the EU Association Agreement as well as other matters. Firmness on the part of the United States has proved effective in altering Israel’s policy on the few occasions it was practiced in the past. The European Union should consider adopting it now.
Campaign information from JfJfP (this was last updated 19 July 2004)
Time to act on the EU Association Agreement
The EU sees itself as broker for peace in the Middle East [note1]; yet it actively bolsters the Israeli vision of themselves as Europeans engaged in a ‘peace process’. It does this particularly by maintaining two EU-Israel Association Agreements, one on Trade, the other on Technical and Scientific Co-operation. We are concerned here only with the Trade Agreement.
This agreement allows almost all Israeli products free entry to the EU. Exports to the EU now constitute some 30% of Israeli exports and are worth some 8 billion dollars a year.
This is not an issue of an economic boycott of Israel but a question of the right of Israel to economic privileges not enjoyed by other, much poorer, countries.
The Agreement was concluded in 1995 as part of the Oslo Peace Process and Article 2 states explicitly that the Agreement itself ‘shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles which…constitute an essential element of this agreement’.
There is in principle a parallel agreement allowing ‘Palestinian’ products into the EU tariff free, but in practice no Palestinian exports reach the EU because of the stranglehold of Israel on the Palestinian economy [note2].
In April 2002 the European Parliament voted to suspend the agreement, given the numerous Israeli violations of international Human Rights Law. The Council of Ministers refused to implement this decision, with Britain, Netherlands and Germany as the only countries opposing suspension [note3].
Since that time, however, the UK government has issued numerous statements condemning the human rights violations of the Israelis [note4] and in early July the properly constituted International Court of Justice at the Hague voted 14/1 that the Israeli separation wall was ‘an illegal violation of human rights’ and that it should be dismantled and compensation paid to the many victims. This ruling gives all states an obligation to see the decision implemented and effectively says that Israel’s self-proclaimed security needs cannot take precedence over its human rights obligations towards the Palestinians. Israel and the US don’t accept that, but the judge nominated by the British Government agreed in full to the ICJ ruling. All this puts the UK’s original failure to support suspension of the Association Agreement in question.
We now have a new European Parliament, including many new member countries that had to ‘clean up’ their human rights acts before being given the access to European markets currently enjoyed by Israel.
Many EU member states, like Germany and the Netherlands, feel particularly vulnerable to the possible charge of antisemitism if they oppose Israeli government policies. Hence it is particularly important that Jewish groups are at the forefront of a campaign to suspend the Agreement until such time as Israel meets its human rights obligations.
In Britain, we may have many new MEPs who may need to be convinced to take up the issue, but we are also in the advantageous position that large numbers of Labour Party MPs and cabinet ministers openly question Tony Blair’s subservience to George Bush on Middle East policy. In addition, pursuit of a fair and effective Palestinian policy could mark out a positive role for Britain in Europe, were the Government pressurised to take action.
In other words this is something that could be won, with sufficiently focussed effort.
What you can do
Each and every one of you can approach your MEP and your MP for a discussion of the issues. MEPs might be best approached by a group from their (largish) European constituency.
So if you are willing to take part in this campaign, please inform us of your constituency and we will supply you with addresses of the MEPs/ MPs and the contacts we have in your area, who have also said they are willing to involve themselves. We will also tell you about the MPs voting record on Palestine issues. We have also identified a list of priority MPs who have come out against the Wall (201 MPs ) but not yet for suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. If your MP is on the list below, you are particularly urged to get in touch contact them asap [see Appendix 1]. Read the Early Day Motion and current list of signatories.
If you can involve local Labour Party, Green, Liberal supporters and local Muslims, so much the better – you don’t have to be Jewish to take part, but it would be obviously be good for Jews to have a visible presence in this campaign. The PSC are also campaigning by lobbying local MPs; you might be able to coordinate with them. You could start by writing to your local paper on the lines of the JfJfP/EJJP statement on the Wall, Kaufman’s article in Monday’s Guardian or Halpern’s letter to the Times (as yet unpublished, see Appendix 2 ), according to your taste. Remember we don’t support a policy of boycott as an organisation. You might find a local wall/fence issue to relate it to.
We suggest you lobby your representatives by first telling them how you feel about the situation and your need to see a way forward. You might then mention the judgement on the separation barrier/wall, the demolitions in Rafah and the assassination of Palestinian leaders without due process. We unreservedly condemn the killing of civilians on either side but we also think that the double standards operating in relation to Israeli violations of international law help fuel Palestinian frustration and violence.
You can ask your representatives what they intend to do to represent your views in Europe/ at Westminster and suggest to them our four-point programme:
* Suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement until Israel meets its human rights obligations (see list of MPs who have signed up to EDM1288, sponsored by Lynn Jones. See above about targeting those who signed up to a resolution against the Wall but who have not yet come out on this issue.))
* Stop all EU arms trade with Israel
* Act to bring a halt to any construction of the wall beyond the Green Line and to have it dismantled. Investigate any UK company involvement in the construction.
* Actively promote a negotiated settlement.
We would also like you to encourage Labour Members to join the Labour Middle East Committee. MEPS should also be pressed on the four points.
 See http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029394680
 Products from the settlements are not eligible for tariff reductions and the British Government is in principle committed to ensuring that they are properly labelled. Gush Shalom provides a list of producers on the settlements ( http://www.gush-shalom.org/boycott.zip or http://www.bigcampaign.org/boycott.html#settlement) and it is worth checking how many imported goods identified as Israeli originate from these producers.back to text
 The rational given by the Foreign Office at the time is based on an overblown interpretation of Article 76(c). This states that ‘nothing in the Agreement shall prevent a party taking any measures…(c) ‘ which it considers essential to its own security in the event of a serious internal disturbance, in time of war, or serious international tension’ The Article actually goes on to state that nothing in the agreement shall prevent a party taking any measures – in order to carry out obligations it has accepted for the purpose of maintaining peace and international security’. Which in principle applies equally to the EU as a party. back to text
 Examples from the FO Website:
‘The Foreign Secretary raised our concerns about settlement activity with Prime Minister Sharon during his visit to the UK on 14 July, our Embassy in Tel Aviv and Baroness Symons continues to do so with our Israeli interlocutors’.
‘We are seriously concerned by the worsening humanitarian situation. We have made clear to the Israeli Government our concerns about the impact of military operations in the Occupied Territories. The excessive use of force by Israel Defence Forces (IDF), resulting in civilian casualties, and the destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, have contributed to Palestinians’ sense of frustration and hopelessness, and make a comprehensive settlement more difficult to achieve. Israel must ensure its actions fall within the parameters of international law, and ease restrictions on the Occupied Territories to enable economic life to recover and the humanitarian situation to improve. The imposition of closures, settlement expansion and military incursions by the IDF are counter-productive. Assassinations do nothing to prevent violence and undermine the ability of the Palestinian Authority to effectively tackle terrorism.’
We consider Israel’s building of a fence in Occupied Territories to be unlawful. Unilateral measures, such as the fence, will not provide lasting security. This can only be delivered by a negotiated settlement. Construction of the fence on occupied territory inflames public opinion and harms prospects for peace. The route taken by the fence and the effects on the Palestinian people is unacceptable. We deplore the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian land associated with the construction of the fence, which creates a physical obstacle to the two-state solution. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary raised the matter with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon on his visit to London on 14 July. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has also made representations to the Israeli Government about this. Israel’s military order of 2 October, which declares land between the fence and the Green Line a ‘closed zone’ and requires those Palestinians who live on or farm it to apply for a permit to access their land, is a matter of particular concern. Baroness Symons raised this matter with the Israeli Ambassador on 22 October 2003’. back to text
These MPs have signed the EDM calling for the British Government to do all in its power to get Israel to cease building the wall, but have not yet signed the EDM 1288 relating to the Association Agreement:
Appendix 2: Michael Halpern’s letter to The Times
Sixty years ago, still within the lifetime and memory of perhaps one third of our population, over ten million people were exterminated in concentration camps and a like number killed on the battlefields and towns of Europe. More recently we have witnessed the genocide in Ruanda and the Balkans.
The second world war was mans’ inhumanity to man, made manifest. We swore then, ‘never again’.
Yet, today, the world stands by, as an onlooker, whilst innocent people – albeit in far different numbers – are routinely killed by the Israeli army, as suspected militants.
Would we ourselves not be ‘militants’ if our land and livelihood were taken away from us; if our water supply was restricted; if our very lives from dusk to dawn were circumscribed by the laws of an occupying force?
Israel acts illegally. It has been indicted and found guilty by the International Court of Justice – yet it contemptuously continues to ignore international law.
Furthermore, it holds a clandestine nuclear arsenal that it refuses to allow to be inspected by the IAEA and which is therefore a terrible threat that could well crystallise upon the whim of an Israeli administration. The world would then be in mortal danger.
How much longer is the UK going to sit on its hands merely because Israel is funded by, our own ally, the United States?
The EU has the power to abrogate its trading Agreement with Israel. It should act now in order to force the Likud government of Ariel Sharon to respect and adhere to international law and to world opinion. We should wait no longer and appease no more.
page last updated 19 July, 2004