Ramallah – In a letter sent to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) has expressed concerns over Israel’s planned annexation of the West Bank, saying it was part of the ongoing ethnic cleansing, apartheid and colonization.
The letter read, “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.”
“While Gaza has been strangled by a 13-year blockade and repeated military invasions, in the West Bank Palestinians struggle with a brutal occupation, expulsion, dispossession, arbitrary arrests and house demolitions among other things,” the ECCP continued.
After criticizing the EU over its lack of action, the 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 Programs funded by European taxpayers’ money, were cited as options.
“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, as allowing such entities to trade freely and profit from the occupation violates duties of non-recognition of and non-assistance to serious breaches of international law. The current situation cannot be allowed to continue if the EU is serious about its commitments to human rights and the rule of law.”
The letter concluded, “In this context we, a coalition of 40 civil society organisations and NGOs from 20 European countries, ask you to specify what kind of actions the EU and European governments are going to implement in order to prevent Israel’s illegal annexation of yet more Palestinian land. How will the EU guarantee that in its “cooperation” with Israel, principles of international (humanitarian and human rights) law, including the responsibility of the occupier towards the occupied population, are finally going to be applied given the current situation on the ground?”