Organized by Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations
The conference on “The European Foreign Policy towards the Palestinian Issue” was convened in Beirut on the 3rd and 4th of November 2010, with the participation of around 130 intellectuals and academics specialized in the Palestinian issue and the European foreign policy. The conference that was organized by Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations in Beirut, was also attended by representatives of the Arab League, and ambassadors or embassy representatives of several Arab, Muslim and European countries; beside South Africa.
The discussions that proceeded throughout the conference’s two days’ schedule, provided an objective setting for the participants to discuss the underpinnings of the European foreign policy, the European political, economic and military roles towards the Palestinian issue, and the Euro-Israeli relations. In addition, the conference included detailed discussion of each of the British, French, German and Norwegian stances, and gave particular attention to the legal and media levels. It also discussed the role of the European public, and of Arab and Islamic communities in Europe, and the possibility of influencing the European foreign policy.
The Conference concluded:
1. The conference highly regards all the efforts aiming at strengthening the Palestinian and Arab-European relations, on the basis of equity, competency, common interests and civlizational dialogue; to serve the higher values of justice, freedom, peace and development especially in the Middle East.
2. The conference recalled the European ethical and historical responsibility towards the creation of “Jewish problem” and the establishment of the “Israel” in the Palestinian lands, resulting in the Palestinian issue and suffering of the Palestinian people. Hence, it calls upon the European countries to play a more active role in taking up their responsibilities towards the Palestinian people, returning their rights and lands, and obtaining their right of return, self-determination and independence.
3. The conference emphasized the need for giving special European attention towards Jerusalem, to face the process of its “Judaization” and “Israelization,” and to support its Arab population against the occupation’s attempts of evicting them. The conference refuses any European stance that recognizes Jerusalem (West or West and East Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel.
4. The conference calls upon the European countries to put pressure on Israel by all possible legal, political and economic means to respect the Palestinian legitimate rights, respect the international resolutions, withdraw unconditionally from the occupied Palestinian lands, guarantee the refugees’ right of return to their lands, and dismantle settlements.
5. The conference urged the Arab states to forge a unified vision, which generates a serious acting methodology, and takes advantage of the potentials within to exert pressure on European countries to modify its policies towards the Palestinian cause, and ensure the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.
6. The conference calls upon the European countries to play an efficient role in lifting the siege on Gaza Strip, and to refuse the implementation of any policies that could result in increasing the suffering of the Palestinian people.
7. The conference recognizes the importance of the European role on the international level, especially in the United Nations and the Security Council. Thus, the conference stresses upon that this role should be activated in the just cause of the Palestinian people.
8. The conference looked with much concern on the European dealing with the Israeli falsification of European passports that were used in violation of international law and ethical standards in the assassination of anti-Israeli figures. The conference considered the European dealing was deficient in its seriousness and fortitude levels; and called European countries to be more careful so as not to be exploited again as a cover for similar operations.
9. The conference discussed the threats of declaring Israel as a “Jewish state,” calling the European countries to refuse recognizing such a declaration that will inflict additional suffering on the indigenous Arab population in historic Palestine. This declaration will profoundly manifest the ugly racist face of the Occupation that contradicts with the human development and modern civilizational values.
10. The conference called upon the European countries to respect the democratic choices of the Palestinian people, deal positively with the results of the transparent elections that took place and its outcomes, and not to punish the Palestinian people for practicing their right of free political choice; even if the results do not meet the “hopes” or “expectations” of some European politicians.
11. The conference discussed the peaceful negotiations track, and emphasized that the European countries need to critically evaluate the unsuccessful experience of this track, that led to the current deadlock situation. The conferees called for dealing with the Palestinian issue as a question of freedom, independence, justice and human dignity; and not merely as an issue of improving the economic and humanitarian conditions under occupation, or of loosening the Occupation’s restrictions.
12. The conference called upon the European countries to remove the Palestinian resistance movements from the blacklist of “terrorist” organizations, to consider them instead as movements of national struggle for freedom, and establish positive relations with them. This will result in a better understanding of the Palestinian situation, and a more just and efficient European role that intersects more with the European principals, values and the European history of armed resistance to the occupation; and with the United Nation’s Charter that guarantees to occupied populations the right of armed resistance.
13. The conference calls upon the European countries to protect and allow for the possibilities of pursuing legal action against the Israeli war criminals, and holding the Occupation legally and internationally responsible for its crimes against the Palestinian land, population, heritage and sanctuaries. The conference also requests that the European countries reject the Zionist pressures for changing the laws related to legal pursuit of war criminals.
14. The conference appreciates the European economic aid to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and through UNRWA. Nonetheless the conferees remarked that although this aid served partly in building Palestinian infrastructure and paying salaries of the Palestinian Authority employees, besides other sectors…; it has failed in activating the participation of economically marginalized groups such as the poor and the unemployed, and did not succeed in lessening the Palestinian dependence on external aid. Actually, large sums of this aid go to the security forces, or to programs that are not of high priority compared to other needs of the Palestinian population and their living circumstances. In addition, these contributions were not accompanied by Israeli guarantees of not targeting the Palestinian infrastructure, institutions and services provided by this aid. Hence, the conference calls the European Union and countries not to politically manipulate the economic aid, or to employ it as a pressure tool against the Palestinians to impel them towards specific political choices and tracks. The conference also called the European countries to adopt policies that ensure that this aid is received by the deserving parties, to support real development; and to prevent the Israeli intervention in this process, as it only deteriorates the positive role of these contributions.
15. The conference calls upon the European countries to play an objective and autonomous role, independent from the American role; and not to tie their policies with the American policies in the region that led to catastrophic consequences.
16. The conference noted the important role of the European media in public and official communication, alarming from the negative consequences of biased coverage related to the Palestinian issue. Hence, the conference calls upon the European media to give more space for expressing the views supporting the Palestinian rights. It also calls upon the politicians and activists who support the Palestinian rights to take more advantage of the media, in an effective manner that considers the European culture and context.
17. The conference discussed the Euro-Israeli economic relations, and called upon the European countries to employ their economic relations with Israel as a pressure tool to end the occupation and not in the siege of the Palestinian people. Suggestions of such pressure mechanisms include, but are not limited to, economic boycott of Israeli products especially those produced in settlements; academic, cultural and diplomatic boycott; …etc.
18. The conference calls upon the European countries to review their military and security relations with Israel, and to stop offering the Israeli Occupation any assistance in this field, whether in the form of technology or experience or arms; since eventually these are only contributing in aggravating the Palestinian suffering and increasing the Israeli violations.
19. The conference appreciates the efforts of the European public, several European politicians, and the Arab and Islamic communities in the field of supporting the Palestinian rights. The conference also appreciates the calls for boycotting the Israeli products and services, and the attempts at breaking the siege of Gaza Strip; and calls for organizing these efforts to become more systematic and effective.
Finally, the conference emphasizes that the European civilization and human values meet with the goal of achieving freedom and justice for the Palestinian people; and that the European conscious, when aware of the factual realities of the Palestinian issue, will not hesitate to support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.