ECI to EU Foreign Ministers: - Help save the Peace Process in the Middle East

Brussels, October 12th, 2012 – As the Foreign Ministers of the European Union meet in Luxembourg on Monday 15th October, they can help save the Peace Process in the Middle East by firmly rejecting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state at the UN next month.

In a letter addressed to the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, and the EU Foreign Ministers on Thursday, ECI urged the EU leaders to make it perfectly clear that they must only support a negotiated solution to Middle East conflict and can under no circumstances accept a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state at the UN. EU financial assistance to the PA should be conditional on their commitment to keeping the agreements made under the Oslo Accords: these prevent either side from taking unilateral action.

This is ECI’s message in a letter written to the 27 EU Foreign Ministers just a few days before they are scheduled to meet in Luxembourg.  There they will try to unite behind a common EU policy on a Palestinian statehood bid which is expected to be debated at the UN in New York in November.

”In a situation in which the whole of the Middle East is in turmoil, the EU cannot afford more instability in the region”, the letter reads. ”The EU now has a special responsibility to monitor the situation, given that it is the single largest institutional donor to the Palestinian Authority, providing aid and assistance worth more than 600 million Euros a year.”

It is widely believed that without the support of EU taxpayers, the Palestinian economy would collapse overnight.
”This unsustainable financial situation hardly qualifies PA for statehood”, the letter observes. ”Furthermore, the fact that the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas,  controls only half of the territory that he claims for his proposed new state, seriously calls  into question his right to speak on behalf the Palestinian people.”

The Fatah leader, Abbas, has not been welcomed in Gaza since rival group Hamas effectively kicked out the Fatah leadership in 2007.

The letter concludes by stating that ”accepting an upgrade of the PA membership at the UN at this time would in fact kill the peace process and alienate the Israelis and the Palestinians from each other even further."

The conditionality of EU funding of the PA has been an ongoing debate at the EU. In 2005, ECI demanded that the EU re-evaluate its funding to the PA, by asking for an internal EU audit. Despite initial reservations, the EU Commission finally froze funding to the PA in December 2005, quoting arguments made in the ECI report. However, in the following month, January 2006, the EU branded terrorist organisation Hamas won the elections in Gaza due to the widespread corruption of Fatah. In 2007 the Fatah leaders were driven out of Gaza.

-’The EU should avoid repeating the mistakes of the past by uncritically and unconditionally funding and supporting the Palestinian Authority, but needs to call them to account’, ECI Director Tomas Sandell said in a statement in Brussels on Thursday night. ’There is no better time to do so than at the critical EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.’

European Coalition for Israel
P.O. Box 189
FI-00181 Helsinki, Finland
Tel.: + 358 9 6948056

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