Monday, August 29, 2005

Press release

August 28, 2005

European Delegation calls on the European Union and the EU Member States to hold Israel accountable

JERUSALEM. Between 22 and 28 August, a European Delegation of former ministers from The Netherlands, Ireland and Germany and a high-ranking former ambassador from France paid a fact finding visit to Israel and Palestine (i.e. Occupied Palestinian Territories). The Delegation also consisted of five civil society representatives from Europe. The Delegation was led by Prof. Andreas van Agt, Prime Minister of The Netherlands from 1977 to 1982.

After visiting Israel and Palestine for five days and meeting with numerous civil society representatives on both sides, as well as several parliamentarians, the Delegation calls on the European Union and EU Member State officials and institutions dealing with Israel and Palestine, in particular their own governments, to act decisively and hold Israel accountable for its ongoing violations of International Law.

The visit took place shortly after the evacuation of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip. The Delegation embarked on its trip at this crucial moment in time, to witness and assess at first-hand those facts that (continue to) threaten the prospects for a just peace and that are not being decisively addressed by the international community.

Israel’s disengagement from Gaza has raised hopes among many that peace is now within reach. In light of the facts it has witnessed on the ground, the Delegation regrets having to report that this hope is unjustified.

The Delegation views Israel’s occupation and other policies of the Government of Israel which are illegal, and which cause much suffering among Palestinians, as the root cause of the current deadlock and lack of progress in reaching a negotiated, just and durable peace in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law.

The Delegation comes to the conclusion that in light of Israel’s persistence in the these policies, and the destructive impact of such policies on the situation the ground, an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict depends in the first instance on a more determined international intervention to achieve accountability from Israel and enforce its compliance with International Law.

The Delegation deplores the fact that the international community has to date not brought an end to these policies of successive Israeli governments, thus sustaining a situation of lawlessness and impunity in Palestine.

The Delegation urgently calls on the European Union and its Member States to take immediate action aimed at holding Israel accountable for its ongoing violations of International Law, thereby contributing to the preconditions for a just and sustainable peace in Israel and Palestine.

The Delegation’s call (see annex) is signed by the following members:

  • Prof. Andreas van Agt, Head of Delegation (Prime Minister of the Netherlands, 1977-1982)
  • Mr. Michael D. Higgins (Minister of Culture, 1993-1997, and a current member of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ireland)
  • Dr. Norbert Blüm (Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, 1982-1998, Germany)
  • Mr. Lucien Champenois (Minister Plenipotentiary, France, retired)
  • Dr. Rupert Neudeck (President of Greenhelmets, Germany)
  • Dr. Hajo G. Meyer (Board member of “A Different Jewish Voice” and board member of “International Forum for Justice and Peace”, The Netherlands)
  • Ms. Chris Tilanus (The Netherlands)
  • Mr. Ben Smoes (Chairman “International Forum for Justice and Peace”, The Netherlands)
  • Mr. Jan van der Kolk (Former member of the Board of Trustees “Interchurch organisation for development co-operation”, The Netherlands)

(For more information and interviews with Dutch Delegation members, please contact Lambrecht Wessels of United Civilians for Peace: +31-6-51999711 / +31-30-8801539 or lambrecht.wessels@icco.nl)