Monday, 22 September 2014

End "booming military trade" between EU and Israel, say Palestinian rights groups

The European Union’s key trade and political agreement with the European Union should be suspended in response to the recent attack on Gaza, according to 24 Palestinian campaign groups.

In a letter to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, the groups also demand that the Union impose an arms embargo on Israel until such time as it complies with international law.

The letter is signed by representatives of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Defence for Children International - Palestine Section, the Palestinian NGO Network and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, among others.

It underscores that the EU-Israel association agreement commits both sides to respecting human rights. Entering into force in 2000, that accord facilitates largely unrestricted trade between the EU and Israel and allows Israel to participate in more EU programs and projects than most other non-European countries.

Because the human rights clause in the agreement has not been invoked, Israel enjoys many of the benefits of EU membership without being required to live up to its legally binding commitments on human rights.

Recent mainstream coverage of EU-Israel relations has focused on the EU guidelines announced in June 2013, in response to pressure by the Palestine solidarity movement. These guidelines prevent the EU from recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the occupied West Bank.

The guidelines prevent, too, a limited number of firms and institutions based in Israeli settlements in the West Bank from receiving EU funding and have led to the EU announcing that it will no longer allow the import of products from settlements if they require certification by Israeli government ministries. Dairy, meat and poultry are among the products to be excluded. Yet the majority of EU trade with Israeli settlements will continue, even though those settlements are illegal under international law.

But this focus on limited action against settlements risks hiding the extent to which the EU-Israel association agreement continues to provide Israel with the political, economic and military support it needs to carry out its massacres. more


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