Thank you so much to all of you who’ve sent your replies from candidates to our 7 questions. If you have a reply you haven’t yet sent us, please send it to [email protected]
If your candidate/s told you they don’t support sanctions against Israel please send them a letter based on the below.
If your candidate/s responded to say they do support sanctions on Israel then please send them a response based on this letter>
Suspension of the EU Israel Association Agreement until Israel meets its human rights obligations
Thank you so much for your reply about Palestinian human rights. I was grateful that you took the time to write, but was disappointed that you did not commit your support to the UK taking active measures to encourage Israel to reach agreement with the Palestinians.
I am sure that you will have been as horrified as I by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s election pledges to prevent the creation of a Palestinian State and to expand Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land. It is very disturbing that he has been elected on that basis, leaving no opportunity for negotiating a peace deal, until those commitments have been disavowed.
This has a huge impact on the approach that must be taken by the EU and UK. When a State refuses to abide by international law, the agreements it has made and when a state refuses to act upon the demands of the entire UN, it is time to look at sanctions.
The clearest sanction would be the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The agreement came into force on 1 June 2000 and sets out a framework for political dialogue and cooperation, aimed, in particular, to “develop better mutual understanding and an increasing convergence of positions on international issues”. It further sets out to provide a framework for the free movement of goods, the expansion of trade in goods and services. The Agreement provides the legal structure for additional cooperation agreements between the European Union and Israel.
Israel is, through the Agreement, accorded favoured nation status, a status enjoyed by no other non-European nation. The underlying assumption underpinning the EU-Israel Association Agreement is that it is an agreement between friendly states between which there is a shared wish to further develop cooperation. The Agreement thus includes, as one of its purposes, to “promote a further integration of Israel’s economy into the European economy”.
Such an assumption may no longer be regarded as appropriate in a situation in which the European Union finds itself increasingly critical of Israel’s policies with regard to the Palestinian populations of the occupied West Bank, of Gaza and within its own borders, criticisms which also reflect serious human rights concerns. It is also not clear whether relations between the EU and Israel are conducive to an increasing convergence of positions on international issues.
It should be noted, in this regard, that Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement provides that “relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement”.
It is absolutely clear that Israel has already breached Article 2. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s “Human Rights and Democracy 2013-14” report thus includes Israel as one of 28 countries which seriously contravene international human rights standards.
The EU has consistently found its many expressions of concern over Israel’s human rights record to be effectively ignored by the Israeli Government. Hopes that, through dialogue, Israel might be persuaded to act in consistency with Article 2 have therefore not been realised.
The EU is therefore in a situation in which, in the absence of effective outcomes from a process of dialogue, it needs to consider an imposition of sanctions on Israel in order to achieve compliance with Article 2. A suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement is a reasonable first step in a process of introducing sanctions in that it gives a message that it is no longer business as usual, that Israel’s actions have placed it beyond the boundaries of internationally accepted behaviour. At the very least, it ensures that the EU has proper regard to a legal agreement by taking the position that it no longer regards the other Party as being in compliance. Such a position would justify a formal review of the Agreement so that, through a process of scrutiny, the EU could establish the precise degree of compliance or non-compliance.
It is also important that the EU demonstrates a consistency of approach in its international relations. It has been willing to issue biting sanctions against Russia over its violation of international law. It is not appropriate that Israel’s own violations are simply responded to at the level of expressions of concern, that sanctions are also not issued in Israel’s case.
It should be stressed that suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement would not result in an end to dialogue with Israel. Such dialogue will continue through normal diplomatic channels. The EU-Israel Association Agreement is simply an agreement which accords to Israel a more favourable status than that accorded to other non-European nations. It is therefore in a privileged position. In removing a privilege, one is not closing the door.
Stop trade with Israel’s settlements on Palestinian land, and stop settlement goods being sold in Britain
I also noted from your response that you did not offer your support to the removal of goods from Israeli settlements from UK stores. This is about preventing goods produced on land that has been seized illegitimately from Palestinians being sold in our shops. Such a measure already has wide political support, and I would urge you to support this.