Procedure : 2015/2685(RSP)
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Document selected : B8-0840/2015

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PV 10/09/2015 - 8.5
CRE 10/09/2015 - 8.5
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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0836/2015

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the EU’s role in the Middle East peace process (2015/2685(RSP))

Martina Anderson, Neoklis Sylikiotis, Patrick Le Hyaric, Ángela Vallina, Sofia Sakorafa, Younous Omarjee, Marisa Matias, Tania González Peñas, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, Estefanía Torres Martínez, Pablo Iglesias, Marina Albiol Guzmán, Paloma López Bermejo, Javier Couso Permuy, Lidia Senra Rodríguez, Josu Juaristi Abaunz, Malin Björk, Stelios Kouloglou, Kostas Chrysogonos, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Eleonora Forenza, Merja Kyllönen, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Kateřina Konečná on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

European Parliament resolution on the EU’s role in the Middle East peace process (2015/2685(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,

–       having regard to the decision of the United Nations General Assembly of 29 November 2012 to accord Palestine non-member observer state status,

–       having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 194 and UN Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 252 (1968), 338 (1972), 476 (1980), 478 (1980) and 1860 (2009),

–       having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 67/19,

–       having regard to the UN human rights conventions to which Israel and Palestine are States Parties,

–       having regard to UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/29/L.35 on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted on 3 July 2015 with unanimous EU support,

–       having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

–       having regard to the Fourth Geneva Convention,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–       having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) of 20 November 1989, in particular Articles 9 and 37 thereof,

–       having regard to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by means of UN General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984,

–       having regard to the Oslo Accords (‘Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements’) of 13 September 1993,

–       having regard to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) entitled ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories’ of 9 July 2004,

–       having regard to the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and more particularly to Article 2 thereof,

–       having regard to the Council conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process of 16 December 2013, 14 May 2012, 23 May and 18 July 2011, and 8 December 2009,

–       having regard to the EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 20 July 2015 on the Middle East,

–       having regard to the EU Guidelines on Promoting Compliance with International Humanitarian Law,

–       having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, on the situation in Israel and Palestine,

–       having regard to the decision by the Swedish Government to recognise the State of Palestine as of 30 October 2014, and to the recognition of Palestine by the Vatican in June 2015,

–       having regard to the letter sent to the VP/HR by 16 EU Foreign Ministers on 13 April 2015 calling for an EU-wide introduction of guidelines for correct labelling of settlement products,

–       having regard to the statement by VP/HR Federica Mogherini on the formation of the new Israeli Government of 7 May 2015, and to the statements by her spokesperson on the arson attack in the West Bank of 31 July 2015 and on the recent Israeli decisions for further settlement expansion of 29 July 2015,

–       having regard to the local EU statement on demolitions in Area C and on construction work on the separation barrier at Cremisan of 24 August 2015,

–       having regard to the EU Heads of Mission reports on East Jerusalem of January 2012, on Area C and Palestinian State Building of July 2011, and on settler violence of April 2011 and the accompanying EU Heads of Mission note on settler violence of February 2012,

–       having regard to the EU guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas 48 years after the 1967 war Israel continues to occupy Palestine, in violation of international law and all relevant UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, and whereas the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital has yet to become a full UN member in accordance with the 1948 UN resolution;

B.     whereas in November 2012 the UN General Assembly granted ‘non-member observer state’ status to Palestine; whereas finding a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Arabs and Israelis in a broader context, is a target for the international community and a declared position of the EU;

C.     whereas Parliament has repeatedly expressed its strong support for the two-state solution, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the 1967 borders, living side by side in peace;

D.     whereas 20 years after the Oslo Accords and the non-implementation of these by Israel, the Palestinians no longer have any trust in the negotiations;

E.     whereas Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, has stated his intention to set a timetable through the UN for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory within three years; whereas the Arab League has supported this plan of action and has called for an international conference aiming to seek a final settlement on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative; whereas parallel efforts, spearheaded by France, are under way in the UN Security Council;

F.     whereas consecutive US-led efforts, including in 2014, to have a meaningful peace process between Israel and Palestine have failed, with little possibility of such a format succeeding in the future;

G.     whereas the policies of the Israeli Government are leading to the further erosion and complete destruction of the possibilities for a two-state solution, as laid down by all relevant UN resolutions, as well as relevant EU Council conclusions;

H.     whereas the first legislative steps of the Israeli coalition government, in place since May 2015, have confirmed its nationalist, pro-settlement and far-right ideological leanings, including in the adoption of the forced-feeding bill, the toughening of sanctions against stone-throwers and a proposal to expand the use of the death penalty; whereas draft bills aiming at limiting the authority of the Supreme Court and restricting the public space for civil society actors are in the making; whereas the Israeli Government has announced the construction of hundreds of new settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and has resumed the construction of the separation wall, in spite of being ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004;

I.      whereas the Palestinian population in the West Bank, notably in Area C and in East Jerusalem, face blatant violations of their rights, including settler violence, water diversion, severe restrictions on free movement, home demolition and forced evictions; whereas the forcible transfer of residents of an occupied territory constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law; whereas planning policy is used as a means to evict Palestinians and to expand settlement outposts; whereas military training exercises are also used as a means to forcibly displace hundreds of Palestinians, notably in the Jordan Valley; whereas, according to the UN, Israeli settlers have carried out at least 120 attacks on Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015; whereas, according to Israeli NGO B’Tselem, at least 13 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli security forces and three Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians during the first half of 2015 in the occupied Palestinian territory;

J.      whereas 5 700 Palestinian detainees and prisoners – including 160 children, 26 women and 400 administrative detainees – are held in Israeli jails; whereas 10 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, three of whom are under administrative detention, are detained in Israeli prisons; whereas on 30 July 2015 the Knesset adopted the Force-Feeding Law, which authorises the forcible feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike;

K.     whereas Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to peace efforts and have done so for many years; whereas Israeli settlement products are still imported into the European market under preferential treatment, despite the fact that current EU legislation does not allow the import of such products under the preferential terms of the EU-Israel Association Agreement;

L.     whereas, according to the Palestinian Monitoring Group, Jewish settlers have carried out more than 11 000 attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank since 2004; whereas, according to Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din, only 1.9 % of cases of settler violence brought before the courts between 2005 and 2014 ended in successful prosecution;

M.    whereas under international law, any third party, including Member States, has the duty not to recognise, aid or assist settlements, as well as the duty to effectively oppose them;

N.     whereas the former VP/HR pledged to issue by July 2013 EU-wide guidelines on the correct labelling of imported products originating beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders; whereas in a letter of April 2015 a clear majority of Member States expressed their exasperation at the repeated deferral of the issuing of such guidelines by the VP/HR and urged the latter to take action; whereas three Member States – the UK, Denmark and Belgium – have issued their own voluntary national guidelines;

O.     whereas, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in August 2015, 142 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem, including 16 donor funded structures; whereas these demolitions displaced 201 people, including 121 children, and otherwise affected 426 people, including 233 children; whereas this was the largest demolition recorded in these areas since January 2013;

P.     whereas one year after the Israeli military operation ‘Protective Edge’ against Gaza, which resulted in the death of over 2 100 Palestinians and 66 Israelis (including respectively 1 462 and 5 civilians), the parties have failed to abide by their duty to conduct genuine investigations into alleged violations and to prosecute those responsible; whereas the UN Commission of Inquiry into this operation concluded in June 2015 that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes and that the devastation in the territory was unprecedented; whereas Israel refused to cooperate with this Commission of Inquiry and denied its access to Gaza;

Q.     whereas the ceasefire reached on 26 August 2014 has not been implemented, in particular as regards lifting the blockade; whereas none of the 19 000 homes totally destroyed have so far been rebuilt because of severe restrictions on the entry of building materials; whereas 100 000 people are still displaced; whereas 95 % of Gaza’s water is not safe to drink; whereas the continued closure of Gaza is having a devastating impact on the 1.8 million people living there; whereas, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Gaza closure constitutes ‘a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law’; whereas a UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report of 1 September 2015 has concluded that the blockade has led to a sharp reversal in Gaza’s development and that Gaza will become uninhabitable by 2020;

R.     whereas the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – which is delivering vital services to Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory and also in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – has been facing the most severe funding crisis in its history; whereas the EU and its Member States remain the largest donor to UNRWA, accounting for almost 40 % of the total support to the agency;

S.     whereas a Palestinian unity government endorsed by Hamas and Fatah was established in April 2014, accepting the Quartet principles of non-violence, adherence to past agreements and the recognition of Israel, and supported by the US and the EU; whereas efforts towards Palestinian reconciliation have, however, failed to make tangible progress;

T.     whereas since the signing of the Oslo Declaration of Principles in 1993 the donor community has invested more than EUR 23 billion in peace and development aid in the occupied Palestinian territory; whereas inequality, unemployment and poverty rates among Palestinians have steadily increased over the same period;

U.     whereas an evaluation of the EU’s cooperation with the occupied Palestinian territory and support to the Palestinian people, carried out on behalf of the Commission in May 2014, concluded that the current cooperation paradigm had reached its limits in the absence of a parallel political track by the EU to address the obstacles posed by the Israeli occupation and settlement policies and the political division of the West Bank and Gaza;

V.     whereas the status of Jerusalem remains a key issue in the Middle East peace process; whereas the EU and the international community have never accepted the unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel; whereas Palestinians living in East Jerusalem continue to suffer from the lack of a secure legal residency status, the confiscation of their land and systemic discrimination in access to public services, planning and building and access to religious places and sites as a result of Israeli Government policies aimed at changing the demographic makeup of the area;

W.    whereas the number of Palestine refugees, another key issue in the peace process, currently stands at almost 5 million according to UNRWA, the vast majority of whom are second- or third-generation refugees;

X.     whereas Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement states clearly 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’;

Y.     whereas international human rights and humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, is fully applicable to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip;

1.      Demands the end of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem;

2.      Stresses that the two-state solution is based on the 1948 United Nations resolution and on the recognition of both states by the international community, and hence urges all EU Member States, the EU institutions and the UN organisations to recognise, in accordance with the UN’s decision of November 2012, the State of Palestine on its 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, as established in the UN resolutions, living in peace and security side by side with the State of Israel;

3.      Stresses that the recognition of the State of Palestine by the Member States should contribute to the immediate resumption of direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and urges the EU to become a real political player in the Middle East peace process by supporting meaningful efforts in the framework of the UN towards a comprehensive solution including all the final status issues; believes that progress in the Middle East peace process would benefit the troubled region as a whole;

4.      Reaffirms that the development of EU-Israel relations must be strongly conditional on respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, as stipulated by Article 2 of the Association Agreement;

5.      Strongly condemns the continued expansion of Israeli settlements, which violate international law, fuel Palestinian resentment and undermine the viability and prospects of the two-state solution; calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately halt and reverse their settlement policy and land confiscations, starting urgently with the land south of Bethlehem;

6.      Expresses grave concern about the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources by Israel and the prevalence of forced displacement, notably in Area C, which constitutes a grave breach of international law; deplores, in particular, recent Israeli court decisions approving the demolition and forcible displacement of Bedouin communities in the West Bank for the construction of Jewish settlements; calls on the Israeli authorities to fully respect the rights of the Bedouins and to immediately cancel the demolition and eviction orders for the villages of the Susya and Abu Nwar communities;

7.      Expresses it profound dismay at the growing trend of unchecked settler violence, including the recent murder of an 18-month-old Palestinian baby in an arson attack in the Palestinian village of Douma on 28 July 2015; welcomes the widespread condemnation of this crime by the Israeli leadership, despite it largely failing to acknowledge the endemic nature of settler violence facilitated by a decades-long climate of impunity and incitement;

8.      Calls for an immediate end to the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is a collective punishment against the local population; calls on all parties to effectively implement the terms reached under the August 2014 ceasefire agreement; calls on the EU to take concrete steps to press Israel to end the blockade, in particular by setting a timetable; deplores the continued restrictions by Israel on the entry of building materials into Gaza; calls on the Israeli Government to cease its arbitrary and non-transparent process of listing materials as ‘dual-use’ and to bring its dual-use list in line with international standards, in particular by removing wood, aggregates, steel bars and cement; emphasises that Israel, as the occupying power and under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is the sole and main party responsible for maintaining minimum living conditions for the inhabitants of Gaza;

9.      Reiterates its call for the urgent reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip after the 2014 summer war, which must be a humanitarian aid priority for the EU and the international community; commends the heroic work of UNRWA in this regard; calls on international donors to fulfil their pledges made at the 2014 October Cairo Conference;

10.    Calls again for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners, in particular members of the Palestinian Legislative Council; calls for full respect for the rights of Palestinian political detainees and prisoners in Israeli jails, including of those on hunger strike; considers that the Force-Feeding Law adopted by the Knesset on 30 July 2015 is a violation of international human rights law and calls for it to be revoked immediately;

11.    Believes that the EU should assume its responsibility to become a genuine political player and facilitator in the Middle East peace process, and asks the EU to:

•     condemn the policy of collective punishment pursued against the Palestinian people and to call for an end to Israel’s impunity over the continuous gross violations of international and humanitarian law, the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

•     implement Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement by freezing the Agreement as long as Israel continues violating human rights;

•     impose a ban on arms exports from the EU to Israel, to prohibit all arms imports from Israel into the EU, and to immediately end all cooperation with Israel in the framework of the European Defence Agency (EDA);

•     grant no funding to Israeli entities through Horizon 2020;

•     demand from Israel reparations for the EU-funded projects destroyed during repeated attacks in both Gaza and the West Bank;

•     support the request made by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to place Palestine under international protection;

•     call on the governments of the Member States to implement the 19 July 2013 Guidelines, to call for a ban on imports into the EU of all Israeli products produced in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory;

12.    Calls for the EU to respond to the continued expansion of Israeli settlements by strictly ruling out the application of EU-Israeli agreements to the occupied Palestinian territory, strengthening advice to EU citizens and companies on settlements and settlement activities, taking action vis-à-vis EU companies complicit in violations in the settlements, taking concrete measures towards settlers, including the adoption of a non-contact policy and visa ban, excluding settlement products from the EU internal market and freezing EU-Israeli relations in light of Article 2 of the Association Agreement;

13.    Welcomes the EU’s commitment – in the spirit of differentiation between Israel and its activities in the occupied Palestinian territory – to ensuring that all agreements between the EU and Israel must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, as reiterated in the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 20 July 2015; calls for the correct labelling of Israeli settlement produce on the EU market, in line with existing EU legislation and the EU’s longstanding policy in this regard;

14.    Expresses its deep concern at UNRWA’s serious funding crisis; calls for increased EU financial support for UNRWA and urges all other donors to step up their funding for the agency, but also calls for the underlying core issue of Palestine refugees, namely the right of return, to be addressed; commends and congratulates UNRWA for its extraordinary efforts which made it possible to declare the 2015/2016 school year open for Palestinian refugee pupils;

15.    Welcomes the unanimous vote by the EU Member States in favour of the 3 July 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution entitled ‘Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem’, and calls on the EU to ensure full implementation of the recommendations contained in the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report, including its recommendations to actively support the work of the International Criminal Court in relation to the occupied Palestinian territory;

16.    Welcomes, once again, Palestine’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; deplores the VP/HR’s refusal to even acknowledge this important step towards accountability for future violations committed by all sides; considers that such behaviour blatantly undermines the credibility of the EU’s human rights policy and its pronouncements on accountability and international justice;

17.    Expresses concern at the reports of a deteriorating climate for human rights NGOs in Israel and at the growing attempts by the current government to stifle dissent and independent art, including through the adoption of draft bills aiming to severely restrict the work of NGOs; calls on the EU diplomatic missions to engage with the Israeli authorities on this pressing matter and to continue supporting human rights actors in the country;

18.    Welcomes the formation of the Joint List and its strong outcome in the last legislative elections in Israel, as this gives a voice to Israeli forces and citizens striving for an end to the occupation and a peaceful two-state solution;

19.    Hopes that the Palestinian political forces will be able to achieve reconciliation and national unity, which will help to bring an end to the occupation;

20.    Decides to draw up a report on the trade in arms and other security equipment between the Member States and Israel and Palestine and on the compatibility of such trade with the EU common position; calls for a comprehensive UN arms embargo on all parties in the region in order to prevent further violations of international humanitarian law and human rights;

21.    Recalls its decision to launch a ‘Parliamentarians for Peace’ initiative aimed at bringing together European, Israeli and Palestinian parliamentarians in order to help advance an agenda for peace and complement EU diplomatic efforts;

22.    Expresses outrage at the continued and unjustified obstruction by the Israeli authorities to any visit by official bodies of the European Parliament to Gaza; warns that measures will be taken in the absence of any improvement by 1 November 2015;

23.    Decides to send an ad hoc delegation to Palestine, including Gaza, and to Israel in order to assess the situation on the ground as regards the destruction of EU-funded projects in Area C and Gaza and the prospects for a sustainable solution to the conflict;

24.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Knesset, the Palestinian Legislative Council, the President and Government of the State of Palestine, the President and the Government of Israel, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA.

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