European parliamentarians (from national parliaments and Members of the European Parliament), have written to nine European Union Foreign Ministers, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell, about the formation of the new Israeli coalition government and the threatened plans which effectively amount to annexation of occupied Palestinian territory. This letter mentions specifically the intentions of the new Israeli government to forcibly evict and dispossess over 1,000 Palestinians in 14 villages from their homes in Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills.
Many of the European parliamentarians form part of the European Parliamentarians for Israeli-Palestinian Equality, a network of those from various European parliaments of 17 countries and the European Parliament which meets regularly and cares passionately about advancing equality, justice and rights for Israelis and Palestinians, on the formation of the new Israeli Government.
A response to the letter sent on 13 January 2023, was received on 24 May 2023 from Josep Borell, which can be read at the bottom of this page.
13 January 2023
Palestine/Israel: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s annexationist policies must have consequences
Dear High Representative Borrell,
We are writing to you to express our grave concern about the annexationist policies of the Government of Israel led by Netanyahu, building on the policies of its predecessors which have produced a one state reality: effectively, Israel controls the lives of Palestinians throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given the post of National Security Minister to Jewish supremacist Itamar Ben Gvir, and the Finance Ministry to Jewish supremacist Bezalel Smotrich. This Israeli Government has made it clear that it will not abide by the Quartet Principles. It will pursue annexationist policies, de facto or de jure. Such policies are already in motion and are being fast-tracked with the planned forcible eviction and dispossession of over 1,000 Palestinians from their homes in Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills, vulnerable communities which have already faced home demolitions, the destruction of livelihoods and forced dispossession for years.
Netanyahu has promised to “legalise” outposts which are illegal under both Israeli and international law. They will, of course, remain illegal under international law. He has transferred the Border Police to Ben Gvir, thereby conferring on him a critical role in relation to the deteriorating status quo on the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount. Ben Gvir’s first act was one of provocation – touring the Al Aqsa Mosque compound to demonstrate Israeli control. The Prime Minister has moved the Coordination of Israeli Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Civil Administration to come under Smotrich. He has created a Ministerial post in his office to promote illegal settlements.
These policy decisions are designed to advance the separate, discriminatory and unequal system (designated by leading global and local human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem and Al-Haq, as meeting the legal definition of Apartheid) in the occupied Palestinian territory and expel Palestinians from their land. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney rightly declared in May 2021 that settlements constitute annexation. These policy announcements entrench and expand annexation. They must be challenged by all those in Europe who uphold the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and strive for consistency in the application of international law.
Netanyahu’s annexationist and discriminatory intent is already clear, and should be opposed by all those concerned for Israel’s wellbeing and international standing. The impunity and lack of accountability accorded to Israel have empowered extremism and led us down to this abysmal low point. Insulating bilateral relations with Israel from Israel’s discriminatory and illegal policies against the Palestinians is not only a mistaken policy – worse, it undermines any European claim to uphold universal rights and values. This policy failure must be rectified.
We ask you specifically to
- warn that any Israeli action to (a) alter the status quo in Jerusalem, (b) build further illegal settlements (eg on E1) or (c) evict Palestinians from their homes (eg in Masafer Yatta) will have severe consequences for our bilateral relations in deed, not just in word. In relation to Masafer Yatta, we condemn the new Israeli government’s intention to forcibly evict and dispossess over 1,000 Palestinians in 14 villages, and condemn the demolition by Israel on 23 November of the Italian-financed primary school at Khirbet al-Safai al-Foqa. A shocking number of 44 more Palestinian schools are listed for demolition. School demolition is a crime committed against children – denying them an education and thus a better future. These crimes must not be committed with impunity;
- end trade in goods and services with illegal settlements, and review all bilateral cooperation programmes to ensure that they comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2334. It is vital to differentiate between the territory of the state of Israel and the Palestinian territory which Israel occupied militarily in 1967. The occupied Palestinian territory does not belong to Israel – that fact is beyond dispute;
- end the supply of offensive weapons or other assistance liable to be misused to support Israeli Government-initiated violence in East Jerusalem, the rest of the West Bank and Gaza.
If the Israeli Government persists in its discriminatory policies towards the Palestinians, more areas of current bilateral cooperation with Israel should be re evaluated, leading to incremental and proportionate reduction in cooperation programmes.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is responsible for bringing the Religious Zionism Party into the Knesset and into his Government. Despite that fact, he will argue that he alone can exert a stabilising influence on Ben Gvir and Smotrich – and that any measures in response to acts of discrimination against Palestinians will weaken his influence. At the same time, on the evidence of his past record in office, he will threaten retaliation against any state taking such measures.
Successive Israeli Governments have acted with impunity – violating international law at will, building and expanding illegal settlements, and expelling occupied people from their land. This Israeli Government has already shown that it will intensify these breaches of law. Consequences must follow. The response to protests from Netanyahu and his coalition should be that we in Europe have not sought escalation: far from it. The responsibility for any deterioration in bilateral relations with Israel will lie with those who break the law to increase inequality and discrimination, thus destabilising the region, endangering security for us all, and seeking to eliminate the possibility of a just peace.
The European Union has taken a clear, principled position in support of the rules-based order concerning Russia’s invasion and partial annexation of Ukraine. The acquisition of territory by force is illegal, whether by Russia or by Israel. We ask you to uphold the law without fear or favour – that is the only way to maintain essential consistency in our conduct of international relations.
Alviina Alametsä MEP, Vihreät-De Gröna (VIHR) in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, Finland
François Alfonsi MEP, Régions et Peuples Solidaires (RPS) in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, France
Margrete Auken MEP, Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF) in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, Denmark
Saskia Bricmont MEP, Ecolo-Groen in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, Belgium
Ignazio Corrao MEP, Independent in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, Italy
Clare Daly MEP, Independents for Change in the Left – GUE/NGL, European Parliament, Ireland
Rosa D’Amato MEP, Independent in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, Italy
Claude Gruffat MEP, Europe Écologie Les Verts in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, France
Chris MacManus MEP, Sinn Féin in the Left – GUE/NGL, European Parliament, Ireland
Karen Melchior MEP, Radikale Venstre in Renew Europe, European Parliament, Denmark
Ana Miranda MEP, Bloque Nacionalista Galego in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, Spain
Grace O’Sullivan MEP, Green Party in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, Ireland
Mounir Satouri MEP, Europe Écologie Les Verts in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, France
Tineke Strik MEP, Groenlinks in the Greens/EFA, European Parliament, The Netherlands
Malik Ben Achour MP, Parti Socialiste (PS)
Christophe Lacroix MP, Parti Socialiste (PS)
Simon Moutquin MP, Ecolo-Groen
Satu Hassi MP, Vihreät-De Gröna (VIHR)
Saara Hyrkkö MP, Vihreät-De Gröna (VIHR)
Suldaan Said Ahmed MP, Vasemmistoliitto
Erkki Tuomioja MP, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue (SDP)
Hubert Julien-Laferrière MP, Nouvelle Union populaire écologique et sociale (NUPES)
Senator Frances Black, Independent
Senator Michael McDowell, Independent
Patrick Costello TD, Green Party
Seán Haughey TD, Fianna Fáil
Laura Boldrini MP, Former President of the Chamber of Deputies, Partito Democratico (PD)
Arturo Scotto MP, Articolo Uno
Sjoerd Sjoerdsma MP, D66
Tom van der Lee MP, foreign affairs spokesperson, GroenLinks
Miguel Costa Matos MP, Partido Socialista (PS), Chair Juventude Socialista
Joana Mortágua MP, Bloco de Esquerda (BE)
Joana Sá Pereira MP, Partido Socialista (PS)
Carla Sousa MP, Partido Socialista (PS)
Senator Gorka Elejabarrieta, Eh Bildu
José Luis Bueno Pinto MP, Unidas Podemos
Antonio Gómez-Reino Varela MP, Unidas Podemos
Oskar Matute García de Jalón MP, EH Bildu
Joan Mena Arca MP, Unidas Podemos
Enrique Santiago Romero MP, Unidas Podemos
Johan Büser MP, Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti (S/SAP)
Per-Arne Håkansson MP, Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti (S/SAP)
Signatories added after publication of the letter:
Manu Pineda MEP, Izquierda Unida, in the Left – GUE/NGL, European Parliament, Spain
Letter sent to:
Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belgium
Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Finland
Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France
Micheál Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ireland
Antonio Tajani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Italy
Wopke Hoekstra, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands
João Gomes Cravinho, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Portugal
José Manuel Albares Bueno, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Spain
Tobias Billström, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden
Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European Union