Procedure : 2016/2998(RSP)
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Document selected : B8-0345/2017

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PV 18/05/2017 - 11.10
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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0345/2017

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 achieving the two-state solution in the Middle East (2016/2998(RSP))

Tamás Meszerics, Margrete Auken, Ernest Urtasun, Klaus Buchner, Florent Marcellesi, Bart Staes, Jordi Solé, Pascal Durand on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
Laura Agea, Rosa D’Amato, Ignazio Corrao, Fabio Massimo Castaldo

European Parliament resolution on achieving the two-state solution in the Middle East (2016/2998(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Israel-Palestine conflict,

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process, including those of 18 January 2016,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on 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, Federica Mogherini, on the situation in Israel and Palestine,

–  having regard to the decision by the Swedish Government to recognise the State of Palestine on 30 October 2014, thereby joining 136 other countries, including 8 EU Member States, Iceland and the Vatican, that have recognised Palestine,

–  having regard to the EU notice on the labelling of products from the occupied Palestinian territories, published in November 2015,

–  having regard to the ‘Six-Month Report on Demolitions and Confiscations of EU funded structures in Area C September 2016-February 2017’, published by the EAAS on 5 April 2017,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on the Israel-Palestine conflict, notably Resolution 2334 adopted on 26 December 2016,

–  having regard to the UN human rights conventions and international humanitarian law treaties to which Israel, Palestine and EU Member States are States Parties,

–  having regard to the Arab Peace Initiative adopted in March 2002 by the Council of the League of Arab States,

–  having regard to the European Parliament study of 25 June 2015, ‘Occupation/Annexation of a Territory: Respect for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and Consistent EU Policy’,

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

A.  whereas the prospects of a meaningful resumption of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict within the framework of the so-called Middle East Peace Process remain bleak, in spite of the preliminary diplomatic steps taken by the new US administration;

B.  whereas the two-state solution remains the preferred option of both Palestinians and Israelis and only a minority on both sides supports the idea of a bi-national one-state solution, according to a poll carried out in February 2017 by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research and the Tami Steinmetz Centre for Peace Research;

C.  whereas Amnesty International’s Annual Report 2016/2017 states: ‘That year saw stabbing, car-ramming, shooting and other attacks by Palestinians on Israelis in the West Bank and in Israel. The attacks, mostly carried out by Palestinians unaffiliated to armed groups, killed 16 Israelis and one foreign national, mostly civilians. Israeli forces killed 110 Palestinians and two foreign nationals during the year. Some were killed unlawfully while posing no threat to life. Palestinian armed groups in Gaza periodically fired indiscriminate rockets and mortars into Israel, without causing deaths or serious injuries. Israeli forces responded with air strikes and artillery fire, killing three Palestinian civilians, including two children, in Gaza’;

D.  whereas the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) records, for the year 2017 so far, 16 Palestinian fatalities and 525 Palestinians injured at the hands of Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT), 5 Israeli fatalities at the hands of Palestinians in the OPT and Israel, and a bi-weekly average of 7 Israelis injured by Palestinians;

E.  whereas, since the beginning of the year, the Israeli Government has announced the establishment of a new illegal settlement and has advanced approximately 6 000 additional housing units in existing ones, including in East Jerusalem locations repeatedly highlighted as EU ‘red lines’; whereas on 6 February 2017 the Knesset adopted the Regularisation Law, effectively authorising the confiscation of privately-owned Palestinian land for the establishment and expansion of outposts and settlements; whereas civil society groups warn of pending plans for an additional 15 000 housing units in East Jerusalem, including Givat Hamatos;

F.  whereas the Palestinian population in the West Bank face blatant violations of their rights, including settler violence and severe restrictions on free movement and access to essential services (including water); whereas 6 300 Palestinians - including 300 children, 61 women and 536 administrative detainees - are currently held in Israeli jails; whereas a mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in support of their basic rights has been ongoing since 17 April 2017;

G.  whereas according to the office of the EU Representative in Palestine, there has been an unprecedentedly high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures by the Israeli authorities in Area C and East Jerusalem in the past months, including 440 Palestinian- owned structures, resulting in the displacement of 1 628 people, including 772 children, and adversely impacting a further 7 216 Palestinians; whereas the EU office reported an ‘exceptional upsurge’ in demolitions of structures funded by the EU or EU Member States, for a total number of 182 structures worth EUR 557 378 in 2016; whereas no compensation has been sought for such destruction;

H.  whereas the continued blockade of Gaza is having a devastating impact on the 1.8 million people who live there, constituting, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, ‘a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law’;

I.  whereas efforts towards Palestinian reconciliation have failed to make tangible progress; whereas the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been unable to exercise its authority over the Gaza Strip; whereas the Palestinian leadership has continued to be mired in internal power-struggles; whereas the PA is facing mounting charges relating to patronage, authoritarianism, arrest of critics and corruption;

J.  whereas since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the donor community has invested more than EUR 23 billion in peace and development aid in Palestine; whereas inequality, unemployment and poverty rates among Palestinians have steadily increased over the same period;

K.  whereas an evaluation of the EU’s cooperation with the OPT, 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;

L.  whereas under international law, third parties, including EU Member States, have a duty not to encourage, aid or assist the establishment of settlements and to do everything reasonably in their power to prevent the establishment of any new settlement and to bring such unlawful practices to an end;

1.  Is firmly convinced that the only lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East remains that of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders, on the basis of the 1967 ‘green line’ and with Jerusalem as the capital of both states;

2.  Considers that the continued entrenchment of a one-state reality of unequal rights, unending occupation and creeping annexation of the West Bank, as well as the vanishing prospect of Palestinian statehood, require a rethink of EU policy towards the conflict;

3.  Stresses again that non-violent means are the only way to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians; condemns all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction on both sides;

4.  Condemns the continued expansion of Israeli settlements, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, fuels Palestinian resentment and despair, and represents the single most important obstacle to the viability and prospects of the two-state solution;

5.  Underscores the resolve of the international community, as expressed again by the UN Security Council in December 2016, not to recognise any changes to the 1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiation; calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately halt and reverse their settlement policy; rejects the Israeli government policy of so-called restraint with regard to settlement construction, and calls for the EU to remain steadfast on the issue;

6.  Expresses its grave concern over the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources by Israel and the prevalence of forcible transfer, notably in Area C, which constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions; calls on the Israeli authorities to fully respect the rights of the Palestinian population in Area C, including Bedouins, and to immediately cancel all plans for their forcible relocation and all demolition and eviction orders against them, including in the Khan-Al-Ahmar and Susya communities;

7.  Urges the EU to fulfil its global responsibilities by taking a bold and comprehensive peace initiative for the region; stresses that this new EU policy should focus on preserving the long-term viability of a two-state solution;

8.  Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to enforce their legal requirement of non-recognition and, in line with UN Security Council resolution 2334, to apply an effective and comprehensive policy of differentiation by the EU between Israel and its settlements, grounded on strict respect for international law and the Union’s principles;

9.  Encourages the Commission and the VP/HR, as part of a more robust EU policy towards Israeli settlements, to take the following measures:

a.  to step up public diplomacy in response to settlement activity and to clearly articulate that such a policy stems from the depth of EU-Israeli ties and is based on a legal imperative;

b.  to carry out a review of the full scope of EU-Israel dealings to ensure that an EU policy of differentiation is effectively applied across all bilateral relations;

c.  to establish a robust EU monitoring and compliance mechanism in relation to trade originating from the settlements, and to report on an annual basis on the implementation of the EU guidelines on the labelling of settlement products; calls on the Commission to take out infringement proceedings in case of non-compliance;

d.  to replicate at EU level the Member States’ business advisory warning the private sector about the legal and economic risks of activities benefiting settlements;

e.  to develop guidelines for financial cooperation between European and Israeli entities which ensure that EU investment funds or banks do not support companies or funds that operate in the settlements;

f.  to deny the admissibility of legal documents issued in Israeli settlements, such as property deeds or educational diplomas;

g.  to revisit EU-Israeli relations in light of Article 2 of the Association Agreement;

h.  to ensure that the deepening of EU-Israel relations continues to be conditional on the engagement towards a two-state solution and that the forthcoming EU-Israel Partnership Priorities include a territorial clause;

10.  Urges all Member States to unconditionally recognise the State of Palestine; firmly believes that Europe-wide recognition will advance the prospects for peace and encourage efforts, including by Israeli civil society, to secure a two-state solution;

11.  Regrets that the appointment by the VP/HR of the EU’s Special Representative to the Middle East Peace Process has failed so far to deliver tangible improvements to the EU’s diplomatic efforts and visibility, and hence considers that a drastic review of this mandate is needed;

12.  Expresses alarm at the increase in destruction and confiscation of humanitarian assistance in Area C; deplores the lack of resolve of the EEAS and the Commission, as highlighted by the European Court of Auditors, to secure compensation from and guarantees of non-repetition by the Israeli authorities; expects the Commission to deduct the equivalent of these losses from bilateral EU assistance to Israel; insists that it is essential that the Commission should uphold the strictest standards of transparency and accountability in relation to its bilateral assistance in Palestine and ensure that all allegations of illicit funding are properly investigated;

13.  Welcomes the EU support to communities at risk of forcible transfer, and calls for further investment in Area C; calls on the Commission to ensure that such aid is delivered in a way that reverses fragmentation, fully integrates the political dimension of occupation, and effectively supports Palestinian self-determination; underlines, in this regard, the critical importance of ensuring Palestinian access to Area C for economic recovery and sustainable growth;

14.  Urges the Israeli Government to immediately, unconditionally and completely lift the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip; deplores the continued restrictions imposed by Israel on the entry of building materials into Gaza;

15.  Expresses its concern at the reports of a deteriorating climate for human rights NGOs and progressive forces in both Israel and Palestine and the growing attempts by the authorities to stifle dissent and independent voices; calls on the EU Delegation and on Member States’ diplomatic missions to continue engaging with the authorities and to systematically meet and support human rights and peace actors, without whom the two-state solution will remain elusive;

16.  Emphasises the unique potential of the Palestinian Arab community in Israel to play a crucial role in achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians; calls for an end to the discrimination against Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel; expresses its deep concern regarding the nation-state bill, which adds to other discriminatory legislation adopted recently, and urges Knesset members to oppose its passage into law; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to significantly step up their support for and engagement with minorities in Israel, and to support their efforts to secure equal rights and achieve better political, economic and social participation;

17.  Deplores continued Palestinian disunity, and calls on all Palestinian forces to resume efforts towards reconciliation, notably through the holding of the long overdue presidential and legislative elections throughout Palestine; calls on the Israeli authorities to release all members of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently in administrative detention, as well as all other Palestinians under administrative detention without charges; expresses its grave concern at the ongoing hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners, and calls on the Israeli authorities to respect their basic rights as prisoners; calls on the EU to take innovative action to promote reconciliation;

18.  Decides to convene, as a signal of its staunch commitment to the two-state solution, an extraordinary meeting of its Conference of Presidents in Jerusalem in June 2017, and to set up a monitoring group to assess the implementation of the EU policy of differentiation;

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

20.  Expresses outrage at the continued and unjustified obstruction by the Israeli authorities of any visit by official bodies of the European Parliament to Gaza;

21.  Decides to send an ad hoc delegation to Gaza/Palestine and to Israel to assess the situation on the ground in relation to the destruction of EU-funded projects in Area C and Gaza, and the prospects for a revised EU policy towards the conflict;

22.  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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the Quartet, the Israeli Government, the Knesset, the President of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly bodies.

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