GUE/NGL MEPs condemn West Bank demolitions and call for suspension of EU-Israel agreement
GUE/NGL MEPs strongly condemned the demolition of civilian homes and EU-funded structures and the subsequent displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank and called for the respect of the human rights clause in the EU-Israel Association agreement during a debate in the European Parliament last night.
Irish GUE/NGL MEP Martina Anderson, Chair of the Parliament's Delegation for relations with Palestine, told the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, that since January this year, some 500 Palestinian houses and other structures had been bulldozed by the Israeli authorities, more than in 2015. "These demolitions are clear human rights violations, affecting thousands of Palestinians and are an obstacle to peace. They are part of a deliberate strategy to displace Palestinians out of the West Bank and make way for illegal settlements."
Although the EU did initiate a structured dialogue to end the demolitions within six months, she said "Israel shows nothing but contempt for the EU and EU aid to Palestine because it has increased its demolitions, especially of EU-funded structures, including solar panels, classrooms, playgrounds and other vital infrastructure."
MEP Anderson told Mogherini: "This outrage must stop. We have to stop Israel acting with impunity. It is wrong; the Palestinian people need your help. They need more than words; they need action and they need it now. Demand financial compensation and suspend the EU Association Agreement with Israel!"
French MEP, Patrick Le Hyaric, was adamant that the EU cannot let this situation continue. "The EU cannot accept this illegality, in other words the territorial annexation and colonisation that is underway. Humanitarian law makes it illegal to deprive thousands of Palestinians, including their children, of their houses. At the same time, allowing the infrastructure funded by the EU to be destroyed is allowing ourselves to be humiliated.
He concluded: "We have to force Israel to pay for these destructions. These permanent and ongoing violations of international law and democracy should compel us to suspend Article 2 of the EU-Israel agreement."
For Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis: "Israel is continuing its illegal settlements and demolitions in a targeted way, even targeting EU-funded projects, and the homes of Palestinians who are trying to survive under these conditions. They are making Palestinians refugees for a second time in their own country. Israel is carrying out these criminal actions and is undermining the peace process and any effort to help the Palestinian people.
"We have to be clear. Words are not enough; they have to be translated into action. If the EU is to respect its values, it has to freeze the EU-Israel Association Agreement as long as the Article 2, which calls for the respect for human rights, continues to be violated."
"I think that developments in the Occupied Territories are underlining the complete failure of EU policies in the region," said Greek MEP Sofia Sakorafa. "We are seeing Israel continuing with its criminal policies of settlements, confiscations and demolitions in the West Bank. This year alone, 750 hectares have been confiscated and you are still saying we're in favour of a two-state solution. But will there be any land left to create a Palestinian State?" she asked Mogherini.
"You have now started this structured dialogue with a deadline of 6 months - one month has lapsed with no results. I'm wondering what else do we need to see from Israel, what else Israel will do before you apply the human rights clause and start imposing sanctions on Israel."
GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75