The action was launched in a letter sent to President Barroso and Javier Solana, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, spelling out the way in which the Treaty conditions are being breached and the way in which international law applies. The case is being taken forward on behalf of the complainants by Public Interest Lawyers of 8 Hylton Street, Birmingham.
The Commission has been given 28 days to reply to the detailed case outlined in a 15 page letter which spells out the fact that under the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the EU has clear obligations in the light of Israel’s violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The case made is that the EU is failing to meet these obligations.
In the letter it is argued that ‘Palestinian, Israeli and International Human Rights organizations have concluded in numerous reports and studies that Israel’s actions in Operation Cast Lead intentionally and systematically disregarded and violated both international humanitarian law and international human rights law’.
Furthermore ‘the combined reports delivered to the UN including that of Richard Falk, charged with investigating the human rights situation in Palestine found several breaches of law in Operation Cast Lead. The Special Rapporteur on Poverty discussed reports that during the military intervention Israel deliberately obstructed the work of humanitarian personnel leaving the poor without basic medical, food and other services in violation of both international humanitarian law and human rights law’ The case presented outlines the position of the International Court of Justice and the UN with respect to the countless violations, amongst which include the acquisition of territory by force, obstructing the self determination of the Palestinian People and many other peremptory norms. In pointing to EU’s obligation in the face of so many reports and statements of the highest authority in international law, it states that ‘Under the Geneva convention The EU must not only insure that its own comply with human rights: it also requires it to base its relations with Israel on the mutual respect for human rights . Thus where Israel persistently violates human rights and the EU does not take appropriate steps against Israel it will be in breach of article 2 of the Geneva Convention’. Maintaining the status quo in the EU-Israeli Association Agreement, which makes Israel, EU’s biggest trading partner is improper and more importantly it is justiciable. The letter points towards specific steps which the European Community is required to take under the agreement where Israel is in breach of Article 2 of the Geneva Convention. In recognition of its obligations it calls upon the Commissioner to meet its obligations and further provide detailed description of its actions in fulfilling its obligations. Clare Short said today “I and many others have tried through our parliaments to require our governments to comply with international law, without success. We now hope legal action will require compliance. It is my firm belief that the only way to peace is to require Israel to comply with international law and that this is in the interests of all parties. The European Commission and member states are failing in their duty to uphold the conditions of our own treaty with Israel and to use these requirements to obtain long term peace and justice.”
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