Dr. Ashrawi on the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions on the Middle East peace process

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said:

The PLO Executive Committee welcomes this clear unequivocal stand in support of international law and justice and in the denunciation of Israel’s illegal settlement policy.  This is a decisive and forthright statement that should bring Israel to reconsider its policies and to cease its illegal and destructive measures.

We acknowledge the EU’s commitment to the two-state solution, ending the occupation that began in 1967, and supporting “a renewed multilateral approach to the peace process,” which include the possible establishment of an international support group and an international conference.

We are encouraged by the Council’s decision “to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products” and to establish that any agreement with Israel must “unequivocally and explicitly indicate its inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”  Such a commitment is indeed significant in the course of holding Israel to account on the basis of EU legislation. 

We appreciate the EU’s insistence on compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law” and for taking a positive stance on behalf of children and calling for their protection, including “ensuring the right to education in a safe and secure school environment.”

We also acknowledge the need for reconciliation, democratic elections in Palestine and ensuring a system of good governance.  We welcome the EU’s call for the “lifting of restriction on movement of people, services and goods” in Gaza.

Nonetheless, it is clear that “the underlying causes of the conflict” continue to be the ongoing Israeli military occupation and the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom and legal recourse and protection.  Allocating equal blame fails to take into account the power asymmetry between the belligerent occupier and a vulnerable side under occupation whose rights are being willfully violated.

In denouncing Israeli violations, we are seeking accountability for Israel, which should not be misrepresented as incitement or provocation; the real incitement and provocation are Israeli government and settler violence, as well as the pervasive program of oppression and injustice represented by the occupation itself.

East Jerusalem, as occupied territory, must be included in all legal and political moves in order for it to be the capital of the free State of Palestine.

While we appreciate the promise of “European political, economic and security support and of a Special Privileged Partnership with the EU,” we urge the EU to take concrete steps and measures (1) to refrain from importing all settlement products; (2) to hold Israel accountable for its persistent settlement policies and practices and bring it to compliance with international law; and (3) to adopt a comprehensive and effective political initiative that would bring about an end to the occupation before the Israeli government destroys any possibility of peace.”

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