Haifa/Tel Aviv/Jerusalem–In a statement issued by the EU-Israel Association Council, the European Union (EU) sharply criticized Israel for a wide range of human rights violations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).
Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) welcome language in the statement calling for rectification of human rights violations in Israel and the OPT. Among other issues, the statement refers to Israel’s obligation to protect the rights of the Arab-Palestinian minority, stressing the “importance to address it as a core problem in its own right,” and to seek equitable and sustainable solutions with regard to the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages in close consultation with the communities affected. Additionally, the statement reiterates EU support for human rights defenders as a “long-established element of the European Union’s human rights external relations policy;” condemns the “excessive recourse by Israel to administrative detention;” and urges Israel “to refrain from actions which may…curtail the freedom of association and freedom of speech [of civil society].” With these statements, as well as its condemnation of Israeli practices in the OPT, the EU has made clear its concern for ongoing human rights violations by the Israeli government.
However, despite recognition of these violations by the EU, the Association Council Statement also indicates that the EU will significantly enhance joint economic activities with Israel: 60 concrete activities in over 15 specific fields.
In the view of the human rights organizations, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI):
“While it is crucial that the EU continue to raise concerns about human rights violations by the Israeli government, the EU statement demonstrates an alarming inconsistency between practice and rhetoric, and we fear that it may only promote additional impunity. The EU has offered Israel improved economic and strengthened bilateral relations, while at the same time expressing strong concern about the deteriorating situation of human rights in Israel and the OPT. The principles of human rights, deep democracy, and international law are essential for maintaining a coherent EU external relations policy. Mainstreaming these principles in EU-Israel relations and concrete improvements in Israel’s human rights conduct on the ground must steer any enhancement of its trade relations with Israel.”
Source Special to Gulf News July 26, 2012