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EU must impose sanctions on Israel, rights groups say

May 7, 2020 at 1:55 pm

A tourist photographs a sign painted on a wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on 5 June 2015, calling to boycott products coming from Israeli settlements [THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images]

A network of European groups have called on the EU to impose sanctions on Israel in a letter addressed to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell. Sent by the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), the letter expressed concerns over Israel’s planned annexation of the West Bank, saying it was part  of the ongoing ethnic cleansing, apartheid and colonisation, before urging the EU to take action against Israel’s clear violation of European and international law.

“This is not the first time that Israel has tried to illegally annex parts of territories it occupies,” said the ECCP, “Israel already annexed occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and Syria’s Golan Heights in 1981, in gross violation of international law.”

READ: British MPs urge government to impose sanctions on Israel if it annexes West Bank

ECCP highlighted the “ongoing ethnic cleansing, apartheid and colonisation” which they said was “taking place on a daily basis.” They cited Israel’s 13-year-long blockade on Gaza and the situation in the West Bank where “Palestinians struggle with a brutal occupation, expulsion, dispossession, arbitrary arrests and house demolitions among other things.”

After criticising the EU over its lack of action, ECCP urged Borrell to stand by his February statement in which he warned Israel that “Steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged”.

To confront Israel’s unilateral land grab and annexation “Immediate actions need to be taken, including sanctions”, said the ECCP, urging the EU to take “concrete measures.” They argued that the EU had tolls at its disposal to punish Israel’s many violations. Suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement and excluding Israel from participation in EU Framework Programmes funded by European taxpayers’ money, were cited as options.

READ: Ex-US envoys to Israel urge Democratic leaders to adopt a pro-Palestinian platform

Moreover under international law the EU as a whole and each of its Member States have the mandatory obligation to ban trade with Israel’s illegal settlements, ECCP added. ECCP insisted that there was no way for the EU to maintain its cooperation with Israel as though it was business as usual while claiming to stand for human rights and the principles of international (humanitarian and human rights) law.

ECCP was founded in 1986 as a network of European committees, organisations, NGOs and international solidarity movements. Forty civil society organisations and NGOs from 20 European countries endorsed the letter