Leading and pushing EU to act for Palestine


1) Article from JPost, with a long tail on Lieberman’s rage at EU ‘hypocrisy’ in singling out Israel; 2) NGOs demand suspension of EU-Israel Association agreement; 3) interview with Federica Mogherini.


Federica Mogherini, who assumed office as the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on November 1st, 2014.

New EU foreign policy chief: I’d like to see a Palestinian state by the time I leave office

Catherine Ashton’s replacement, Federica Mogherini, is set to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories on Friday and Saturday.

The EU’s new foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told European media this week that she would like to see a Palestinian state by the time her five-year term is up.

“The important thing for me is not whether other states, European or not, recognize Palestine,” Mogherini said. “What would make me happy is if a Palestinian state existed at the end of my term.”

She issued her statement to the French daily newspaper Le Monde on Monday ahead of her visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Friday and Saturday, when she is expected to meet with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Mogherini told Le Monde that the trip emphasized both the significance she placed on the need to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and her desire to increase Europe’s role in making that happen.

“European action can be decisive in this key moment, which is probably the most difficult moment the region has ever seen,” she said.

She told British newspaper The Guardian that “for the first time I believe… they need the European Union to be present in order to make steps forward at this time of their history. This might not have been the case in the past. But at this date I get the same messages from the Palestinian side, from the Israeli side and from the key Arab countries, exactly in the same terms – we do need at this time the European Union to move forward.”

Mogherini replaces Catherine Ashton, who completed her five-year term at the end of October.

“There is an entire generation growing up with the Palestinian issue. I mean, I’m 41, I studied politics at 16, and this was the main campaign when I was at school,” she told The Guardian.

Mogherini, who most recently served as Italy’s foreign minister, enters office at a particularly sensitive time in Israeli-European relations.

European nations are growing increasingly frustrated with the frozen peace process and Israel’s continued settlement activity, even as Israel continues to enjoy strong economic ties with the continent.

On Tuesday, some 309 European non-governmental organizations called on her to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement and sever diplomatic ties with Israel to protest its lack of compliance with international law.

“Through the continued existence of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and the strengthening of the bilateral relations, the European Union and its member states are sending Israel the message that it does not have to abide by international law,” the NGOs wrote. “The EU is contributing to the climate of impunity and lack of accountability. By continuing to award Israel preferential access to European markets and access to EU programs and funding despite its persistent violations of international law, the EU is providing material support to Israel’s violations of international law and failing to uphold its own commitments under international law.”

Organizing the NGOs’ move was The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine.

On Monday night, Liberman chastised Europe for its hyper-focus on Israeli building over the Green Line, while it ignored the violence that raged in other countries in the region.

“Every day hundreds of people are killed and slaughtered [in countries surrounding] Israel. We are facing many challenges, more than all of the EU together,” he said in Jerusalem during a joint press conference with Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard.

Europe, he argued, “is disregarding this reality.”

“We are trying to survive in a very difficult reality, and instead of supporting Israel, you blame Israel every day,” Liberman said.

A reporter asked him if Israel planned to change its policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in light of European frustration over its settlement activity, noting that European officials and diplomats “are coming to give you advice. What they hope is that Israel, through this friendly advice, would change its policies.”

Liberman reacted to the question with anger, explaining that such European advice was “hypocritical.”

Europe is not offering the same type of “advice” to Pakistan and India, even though a comprehensive peace is needed there, he said.

In light of the complex situation in the region, with violence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya, Liberman said he expected Europe to be more “sensitive” to Israel’s “security concerns.”

In this tumultuous region, Israel is the only country where control reigns, in spite of constant friction and tension with the Palestinians, he added.

“Your [Europe’s] approach to Israel is exactly like the approach of Europe to Czechoslovakia in 1938,” he said, quoting an often used example of European failure to protect that country from Nazi Germany.

Israel, he stated, is the only democratic country in the Middle East.

“Every day you are coming with new pressure. It is a mistake. It is hypocritical.

At the end of the day, it will be counterproductive,” he said, adding that European support of unilateral Palestinian moves and imposed solutions to the peace process was particularly harmful.

He made similar comments about Palestinian unilateralism when he met with his Czech counterpart, Lubomir Zaoralek, on Tuesday evening.

On Monday night, Liberman charged that Sweden’s decision last week to recognize Palestine as a state outside of a negotiated peace agreement – making it the first Western European country to do so – was a “cynical” step to exploit an international situation for its own domestic purposes.

“This position will not advance peace. It will only distance a peaceful resolution and might even undermine all our efforts to achieve a strategic breakthrough in our relations with the Palestinians,” he said.

The Swedish government, he charged, took that step to appease the Muslim community in its country, which is “25 times larger than the Jewish one.”

It is also part of Sweden’s drive to receive the necessary support among UN nations, particularly the 57 Islamic states, to become a member state of the Security Council in the future, he said.

The Swedish government, he said, had not apprised Israel of Thursday’s decision, even though it had promised to alert him in advance.

“We agreed to inform each other about new steps, not to surprise each other,” he said. “With this understanding in mind, it was very, very disappointing and surprising to hear of Sweden’s recent decision.”

Still, Liberman ended his statement on a positive note.

“We hope at least to keep open lines and open dialogue between EU countries and the state of Israel,” he said.


309 Human Rights Groups Call on EU to Hold Israel Accountable for War Crimes in Gaza

By Palestine news and information agency (WAFA)
November 04, 2014

BRUSSELS – More than 300 human rights groups, trade unions and political parties from across Europe called on the EU to hold Israel accountable for its massacre committed in Gaza earlier this year by suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the main treaty between the EU and Israel.

“Through the continued existence of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and the strengthening of the bilateral relations, the European Union and its member states are sending Israel the message that it does not have to abide by international law,” said the declaration, which has been jointly issued by major civil society bodies from across 19 countries.

The written statement calling for the suspension of the agreement was delivered this morning to Federica Mogherini, the new EU foreign policy chief who begins her new role this week and will make her first trip overseas to Palestine and Israel, said the European Cooperation of Committees and Associations for Palestine in a press release.

Signatories to the statement include the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and national unions in Spain, France, Belgium and political parties including Podemos, who currently top the Spanish polls, as well as major NGOs including CNCD in Belgium and Trocaire in Ireland.

The EU-Israel Association Agreement is the main framework for the close relationship between the EU and Israel, granting Israel preferential access to European markets and allowing it to participate in more EU programs and projects than any other non-European country.

The appeal for action condemns Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians during its recent attack on Gaza that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and argues that the failure of the EU to take tough action against Israel “contributes to the climate of impunity and lack of accountability”.

“The EU is providing material support to Israel’s violations of international law and failing to uphold its own commitments under international law,” the statement added.

The EU has previously suspended its Association Agreement with Sri Lanka and recently introduced a raft of measures restricting trade and investment against Russia in relation to the Ukraine crisis.

The failure to impose similar measures on Israel despite decades of serious violations of international law amounts to a double standard, campaigners said.

The statement also argues that the Israel’s largely unrestricted access to European markets and participation in EU programs amounts to “material support to Israel’s violations of international law”.

Aneta Jerska, the co-ordinator of the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), one of the organizations that have signed the statement, said:

The huge number of mainstream organizations that are calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement reflects the growing frustration across Europe with the failure of European governments to respond to Israel’s repeated massacres and violations of international law.

The EU has long argued that its close relations with Israel put it in strong position to engage in dialogue with Israel regarding its oppression of Palestinians, but Israel’s brutal massacre of Gaza shows that this dialogue has failed. It is time for the EU to take action that will pressure Israel to comply with international law.

M.N./T.R.


Interview with Federica Mogherini

By Ian Traynor, Guardian
November 03, 2014

EXTRACT
Mogherini has long been engaged in the politics of the Middle East and is sending a signal by heading there on Friday on her first trip in office outside the EU. Israel-Palestine is the focus and she is to spend three days in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza.

Sweden’s recent recognition of a Palestinian state did not represent a template for the rest of the EU to follow, she said, admitting that such a move would hold little traction among many of the other 27 EU member states.

Establishing rather than recognising a Palestinian state was the point, she said, pointing to the resonance of the issue for the generation of politicians coming to power in Europe.

“There is an entire generation growing up with the Palestinian issue. I mean, I’m 41, I studied politics at 16 and this was the main campaign when I was at school.”

The scale of the multiple crises in the Middle East meant that “different actors share a certain sense of urgency and common threat”, creating “maybe a unique opportunity of putting around the table different actors that so far have not shared a common interest and see if there are some elements that could shape a different regional approach.”

With Europe by far the biggest donor to the Palestinian territories, she warned that repeated failures on settlement prospects would erode public support for billions of euros being seen to be wasted there. “You cannot be a payer without being a political player. This is not sustainable,” she said. “It could create a certain frustration with European taxpayers, especially in an economic crisis.”

But she sounded doggedly optimistic about her visit this weekend. “For the first time I believe … they need the European Union to be present in order to make steps forward at this time of their history. This might not have been the case in the past. But at this date I get the same messages from the Palestinian side, from the Israeli side, and from the key Arab countries, exactly in the same terms – we do need at this time the European Union to move forward.”

© Copyright JFJFP 2021