Some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called on the EU Commission's Foreign Affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, to partially suspend the Association Agreement with Israel on the grounds of the latter's violation of the document's terms. In a letter sent to Ashton, the MEPs said that the legal framework for EU-Israel relations is the "Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement".
They called for a partial suspension and noted that the agreement is based on mutual respect for human rights and the principles of democracy, as Article 2 states clearly. The 23 MEPs belong to various political parties. They added that Israel's continued approval of settlement construction on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, and its human rights violations documented by international organisations require the suspension of the agreement. They reminded Ashton that since she took office she has voiced consistently EU concerns about ongoing settlement activity.
The letter also reminded the Foreign Affairs chief that the EU has stressed repeatedly that settlement construction is illegal under international law and constitutes an obstacle to peace, especially regarding the two-state solution. The MEPs expressed their regret that the EU's objections do not have any effect on Israeli policy in respect of settlement activity and noted that the EU needs a new approach and decisive action. They suggested by way of example the blocking of imports of goods made in illegal settlements which are exported by Israel.
The MPs added that signing an Additional Protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement on the Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products has shed light on the European parliament's resentment towards EU-Israel trade relations due to settlement expansion.
"One of the main aims of the Association Agreement is to enhance political dialogue between the two parties. The violation of international law and human rights by the Israeli government's activities, and the lack of response to the EU's calls to respect international law, in particular a moratorium on settlement expansion, compels the EU to engage more deeply in a political dialogue with Israel on these troubling issues which need to be formally and duly addressed in the context of the Association Agreement," insisted the MEPs.