Thank you for your email requesting information in relation to my views on EU-Israel relations. I will address each of your questions individually in my response:
1. Will you support measures to exclude Israeli illegal settlements from the EU relations with Israel?
May I take this opportunity to state very clearly that I fully support the EU’s position (and that held under International Law) which regards settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, to be illegal.
I have given and will continue to give my support to the new EU Guidelines which reflect the long-standing EU policy on settlements. These Guidelines rightly aim to end the situation whereby Israeli companies and institutions receive EU funding and support in order to fund activities in the OPT.
2. And will you support a campaign to exclude goods entering the EU from Israel’s settlements beyond the Green Line?
Whilst I share your concerns regarding the trading of goods from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I believe that accurate labelling of such goods is the most important step towards reducing the level of trade from these illegal settlements.
Such labelling not only allows consumers to make informed choices about the products which they purchase, but also helps towards the exclusion of such products from reduced tariffs already set under current trade agreements with the EU.
I have always backed accurate labelling from the OPT when it has been debated and voted on in the European Parliament.
3. Will you ensure that the EU fully applies the conditionality clause guaranteeing respect for human rights in all its future and current agreements between the EU and Israel?
Yes. I remain vocal within Europe and the European Parliament in highlighting the many issues arising and relating to the Israeli/Palestine conflict. I have continued to speak-out on humanitarian concerns, including the forced displacement of Palestinians; the building of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land and the Israeli blockage of Gaza.
Regarding EU agreements with Israel, in 2012 I voted against the renewal of the Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products Agreement (CAA), which was originally frozen following the Israeli attack on a humanitarian aid flotilla in May 2010.
Although I would usually be keen to support such a settlement aimed at bringing economic benefits to the EU by significantly reducing the cost of imported products and saving time-to-market conditions, I was unable to support the reinstatement of this particular agreement on political grounds as I did not believe any of the original reasons for its cessation have changed.
I continue to be in regular contact with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, on such matters and have always made her aware of my position.
4. Will you oppose Israel’s violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and will you support Palestinians’ right to self-determination?
I have always supported Palestinian’s right to self-determination. Since my election to the European Parliament in 2004, I have played an active role in calling upon the European Union and its Member States to recognise a Palestinian State and for the conclusion of negotiations aimed at a two-state solution with an independent, democratic, viable Palestine living side-by-side with Israel and its other neighbours.
In 2011, I personally wrote to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, prior to the United Nations General Assembly in New York asking him to give support for an UN resolution on this matter and for him to ensure that the United Kingdom plays a central role in the formation of EU policy in working towards Palestinian statehood. I also signed a Written Declaration (27/2011) in the European Parliament, which called for the recognition by the European Union of the Palestinian State. This Written Declaration was co-authored by fellow Conservative MEP, Sir Robert Atkins.
I believe that by pursuing a statehood strategy there will be a greater chance of reaching a just and fair settlement for both the Palestinian and Israeli people and I am pleased that the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been highlighted as a key strategic priority for the EU and other European Governments.
I hope this email has helped to explain my position and views on this important matter. Thank you once again for making contact with me.
Sajjad Karim MEP