Over 100 European Organizations Join BNC in Calling for Suspension of EU-Israel Association Agreement

9 July 2008 - Statement:

 “We oppose the upgrade of relations between EU and Israel and call for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement”

 On Monday, 16 June 2008, the European Union and Israel agreed to upgrade their relations within the framework of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. This starts a process to end in April 2009 with the definition of a common Action Plan that involves the adoption of initiatives and the creation of stronger ties in a broad spectrum, including economic, trade, academic, security and diplomatic fields. We are appalled by the EU's blatant refusal to hold Israel to account for its persistent violations of human rights and international law.


In their decision the EU declare:

“Our common goal to upgrade relations stems from our awareness of the traditional links, the cultural and human values, and the economic and security interests that we share. [ة] Such a partnership will imply a stronger involvement of the European Union in the peace process and in the monitoring of the situation on the ground.”

 This contradicts reality, the EU's self-understanding, and Israel's record of gravely violating the EU's own human rights regulations throughout the history of EU-Israel relations.

 What shared values is the EU talking about? The EU is well aware of Israel's ongoing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Gaza and the West Bank, including the massive colonization in East Jerusalem and elsewhere. After all, the EU member-states have regularly voted for UN resolutions condemning Israel's human rights violations, collective punishment and construction of settlements and the Wall. Israel still maintains its criminal one-year-long siege on Gaza - described by the current UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Prof. Richard Falk as a “prelude to genocide” - that has already cost the lives of 197 patients, mainly children and elderly, all denied freedom of movement to access treatment outside Gaza. Israel's siege has intentionally and systematically impoverished hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza, more than 50% by now, shutting down most of the industrial sector and ruining agriculture. Most vital infrastructure has been destroyed and the economy has completely collapsed; malnourishment among children has increased sharply, as noted in various UN reports. Israel has continuously disregarded basic human rights by the enclosure and forced displacement of entire Palestinian communities behind the illegal Wall, the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians without trial, and its policy of extra-judicial assassination. Furthermore, Israel has stubbornly refused, for over 60 years and despite its obligations under international law, to recognize and implement the right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as stipulated in UNGA resolution 194. Last, but certainly not least, for 60 years, Israel has enacted a system of state-sanctioned racial discrimination against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in vital domains, including land ownership and employment, simply because they are “non-Jews.” We hope Europe does not share these “values.”

 Legal and moral considerations aside, pragmatic claims that further engagement with Israel allows Europe to play a more effective role in pressuring Israel and promoting “peace,” are dangerously similar to the 'constructive engagement' arguments made to justify relations with the South African Apartheid regime, and have long been exposed as fallacious. The only time Europe went on record for having effectively influenced Israeli policy goes back to 1990 when the Commission had, at Parliament's request, introduced a freeze on scientific cooperation with Israel to protest against the closure of Palestinian schools and universities (particularly Birzeit). This pressure had resulted in the universities being reopened. Since then, Europe's warm embrace of Israel has only encouraged the latter to entrench its occupation and colonization and to ignore its obligations under international law.

 On 10 April 2002, the EU Parliament voted to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement on the grounds of Israeli violations of human rights; however, the Commission refused to comply with the democratic mandate. Instead, it has voted now to upgrade relations without respecting its own stated human rights conditions, effectively rewarding Israel and granting it full impunity for its war crimes in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank. By upgrading this already shameful Association Agreement with Israel, the EU has effectively turned into a willing accomplice and outright supporter of Israeli crimes.

 In this context the establishment of a full fledged Subcommittee on Human Rights instead of the informal Working Group as part of the agreement is reduced to a fig leaf for the ongoing disrespect of the EU's own principles as pertaining to Israel.

 Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement establishes that:

 “Relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on a respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.”

The Communication on human rights, adopted on 8 May 2001 by the European Commission, states that:

“The EU should pursue this approach [e.g. dialogue on human rights] wherever possible, while recognizing that in some cases, the third country may have no genuine commitment to pursue change through dialogue and consultation, and negative measures may therefore be more appropriate.”

The International Court of Justice advisory opinion on 9 July 2004 confirming the illegality of the Wall built on occupied territory and its associated regime further binds all states not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the illegal situation created by the Wall, and to ensure compliance by Israel with international law.

 None of the above has been taken into consideration by the EU Commission. Instead, it proceeds with an upgrade in relations in the very year that marks the 60th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, now widely recognized as the intentional and systematic ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 indigenous Palestinians from their homeland and the beginning of ongoing Israeli dispossession, colonization and oppression against the Palestinian people.

A growing international civil society movement that has endorsed the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel is taking the first steps to hold Israel accountable and to pressure governments to enact sanctions and embargos.

 In this spirit, we commit ourselves to raise awareness among the public and lobby and pressure EU decision makers to stop the process of upgrading the agreement and to suspend the EU-Israel Association agreement until Israel meets international standards of law, human rights and justice by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

April 2009 should not see a new common action plan with in the EU-Israel Association Agreement, but a suspension of the Agreement altogether.


Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

Further Endorsers from Palestine:

1. Alternative Information Center

2. Arab Cultural Forum

3. Birzeit University Board of Trustees

4. Dalia Association

5. Democracy and Workers' Rights Center in Palestine

6. Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

7. One Democratic State Group-Gaza

8. University Teachers Association in Palestine


European Endorsers:


2. AG Palٹstina / Attac-Hamburg, Germany

3. AIPPP (prژservation patrimoine palestinien), France

4. AK Nahost Berlin, Germany

5. Aktionsbںndnis fںr einen gerechten Frieden in Palٹstina, Germany

6. Al Awda, Italy

7. Anti-imperialist Camp

8. Arab Cause Solidarity Committee, Spain

9. Arbeitskreis Palٹstina Tںbingen, Germany

10. Association “100 idee per la pace”, Siena, Italy

11. Association belgo-palestinienne, Belgium

12. Association of Palestinian Communities, UK

13. Associazione di Amicizia Italo-Palestinese Onlus di Firenze, Italy

14. Austrian Campaign “Gaza muss leben”, Austria

15. Britain Palestine Twinning Network, UK

16. CCIPPP, France

17. Civimed Initiatives (formation à mژdiation), France

18. CODIP vzw (Centre for Development, Documentation and Information Palestine), Belgium

19. Comisi—n Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR), Spain

20. Comitژ de Soutien au peuple Palestinien, Belgium

21. Comitژ pour une Paix Juste au Proche Orient-Luxembourg

22. Coordination de l'Appel de Strasbourg, France

23. European Jews for a Just Peace

24. Farrah-France (rژfugiژs), France

25. Federaci—n de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoci—n de los Derechos Humanos, Spain

26. FIOM-CGIL International Department, Italy

27. Frauen in Schwarz (Wien) - Women in Black, Austria

28. Friends of Al-Aqsa, UK

29. Fundaci—n Iepala, Spain

30. Gaza Vivrà, Italy

31. German Peace Circle e.V. i.G., Germany

32. German-Palestinian Association, Germany

33. Handicap-Solidaritژ, France

34. Hands Across the Divide, Cyprus

35. Hoja de Ruta, Spain

36. Intal, Belgium

37. International Jewish Solidarity Network

38. International Solidarity movement (ISM)

39. Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ireland

40. Juedische Stimme fںr gerechten Frieden in Nahost - EJJP Germany

41. Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East - EJJP Austria

42. Jews Against Zionism

43. Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

44. Leuvense Actiegroep Palestina (LAP)

45. LSE SU Palestine Society, UK

46. L'union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique

47. Nahostkomitee in der Berliner Friedenskoordination, Berlin Germany

48. NEAG Alternatives to Violence, Netherlands

49. Netherlands Palestine Committee

50. Oekumenisches Zentrum fںr Umwelt-, Friedens- und Eine-Welt-Arbeit, Peace and One-World-Work, Berlin, Germany

51. Palestina Komitee Rotterdam, Netherlands

52. Palestine Think Tank

53. Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB), UK

54. Pax Christi Middle East Commission German Section

55. Plataforma Aturem la Guerra, Catalunya

56. Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK

57. Red internacionalista de j—venes vascxs Kamaradak- Kamaradak Gazte Internazionalisten Sarea, Basque Country

58. Red Solidaria contra la Ocupaci—n de Palestina -

Solidarity Network against Occupation of Palestine (24 Organizations in Spain):

1. Asociaci—n Al-Quds de Solidaridad con los Pueblos del Mundo çrabe (M‡laga)

2. ASPA Asociaci—n Andaluza por la Solidaridad y Paz

3. Asociaci—n Hispano Palestina Jerusalژn (Madrid)

4. Asociaci—n Pro-Derechos Humanos de Andaluc’a

5. Boicot Preventiu

6. CSCA (Madrid, Asturias)

7. Comunidad Palestina en Canarias

8. Comunitat Palestina Catalunya

9. Ecologistas en Acci—n

10. Grupo de ONGs por Palestina

11. INTERPUEBLOS - Comitژ de Solidaridad con los Pueblos

12. ISM Cataluña / Valencia

13. MEWANDO (Euzkadi) - (Middle East without war and oppression) is a network created by six NGO´s and supported by the Basque Government. MEWANDO members are: Mundubat; Solidaridad Internacional-Nazioarteko Elkartasuna; Mژdicos del Mundo-Euskadi, Fundaci—n Paz y Solidaridad-Comisiones Obreras de Euskadi, Coordinadora de ONG´s de Euskadi, Centro Cultural Palestino Biladi, Paz con Dignidad Euskadi.

14. Mujeres por la Paz - Acci—n solidaria con Palestina (Canarias)

15. PCE (Madrid)

16. Palestinarekin Elkartasuna komite Internazionalistak (Euzkadi)

17. Paz Ahora

18. Paz con Dignidad

19. Plataforma de Solidaridad con Palestina (Sevilla)



22. Xarxa de Solidaritat amb Palestina de Valencia

23. Xarxa d'Enllaç amb Palestina

24. Komite Internazionalistak (Euzkadi)

59. Rete-ECO (Rete degli Ebrei contro l'Occupazione, Italy

60. Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scotland

61. Society for Austro-Arab Relations, Austria

62. Stichting Palestina (Palestine Foundation)

63. Stop the War Coalition, UK

64. Tlaxcala Translators Collective

65. Un ponte per.., Italy

66. Une Autre Gauche, Belgium

67. Verein Arabischer Studenten und Akademiker Tںbingen, Germany

68. Vlaams Palestina Komitee vzw,Belgium

69. Vrede vzw, Belgium

70. War on Want, UK

71. WeAreWideAwake.org

72. Werkgroep Keerpunt (Taskgroup Turningpoint), Netherlands

73. Women for Peace Uppsala, Sweden

74. Women in Black, Austria

75. Young Palestinian Association “Wael Zuaiter”, Italy

76. A Different Jewish Voice - EJJP, Holland

77. Centro di Documentazione e Solidarietà con i Popoli del Mediterraneo “Gabrio Avanzati”, Italy

78. Arbeitskreis Palaestina/Israel, Frankfurt (Main), Germany)

79. Comitato di Solidarietà con il Popolo Palestinese - Torino (Palestine Solidarity Committee - Turin)

80. AFPS (Association France Palestine Solidaritژ)

81. Instituto de Estudios Pol’ticos para Amژrica Latina y çfrica -IEPALA

82. Mںtter gegen den Krieg Berlin- Brandenburg

83. Bubbes and Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East

84. WILPF German section


Cultural Boycott Appeals

Over the past few months, open letters have been issued by Palestinian and Israeli BDS groups to Snoop Doggy Dog, Branford Marsalis, and Mercedes Sosa, all of whom are scheduled to perform to Israeli audiences.

29 June 2008 To Snoop from PACBI: How can an artist whose name is prominently associated with this form of popular and freedom based musical expression, rap, be apathetic to the monstrosity of Israel's current war crimes in Gaza, its Apartheid Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice at the Hague, or its continued violation of fundamental Palestinian rights?... It is also worth reminding you that Palestinian rappers and musicians in the occupied Palestinian territory, like all Palestinians under Israeli occupation, are denied their basic rights, including the “privilege” of freedom of expression which you - and all of us - so highly value.

10 July 2008 Letter from Dorothy Naor to Mercedes Sosa: I apologize for writing in English. My espanole es muy malo... I write to you as an Israeli Jewish activist against the Nakba and all the disasters that Israel has brought and continues daily to bring on Palestinian heads. Your own experience and struggles, your songs about the pain of exile, the fear of political violence, and the struggle for justice should bring the Palestinian cause close to your heart. They are a dispossessed people who for over 60 years have lived either as refugees who are not allowed to visit family or friends in their homeland or here under the military thumb of Israel's policies of expansion and ethnic cleansing... Israelis also suffer from their governments' policies. Israel's leaders from Ben Gurion till today have always made their goal expansion and ethnic cleansing. Consequently, Israelis have gone through 10 wars in less than 60 years. Israel cannot steal another people's land, humiliate, murder, demolish homes, uproot olive trees, and make life miserable without consequences for Israel's own population. Thus nowhere else in the world since WWII have so many Israelis been killed in violence. Scores more Palestinians than Israelis have died at the hands of Israel... Please, reconsider coming to Israel. Do not tarnish your own shining reputation with the grime of Israel's occupation.

14 July 2008 Letter To Branford Marsalis from citizens of Israel who support the Palestinian Boycott campaign: We wonder how a musician such as yourself, who is involved in one of the most liberating musical styles ever to exist, can perform in a country that is in constant violations of human and refugee rights. Israel is in fact an apartheid state, which denies millions of Palestinians basic human rights. Our advice and request is that you cancel the upcoming show in protest of the ongoing war crimes committed on a daily basis by Israel... Your arrival to Israel would mean a slap in the face to the Palestinian struggle for freedom and sovereignty. It would also be a slap in the face for us, Israeli citizens who object the immoral deeds done in our names, with our tax money.