ECI issues open letter as European Parliament and the UN Security Council consider unilateral Palestinian statehood

Brussels, 15th December, 2014 -  Having spent the last two weeks at the UN in New York and the EU in Brussels, ECI has sent an open letter to Members of the European Parliament, as well as to members of the UN Security Council, urging them to reconsider a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

‘A just and a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be orchestrated in the capitals of Europe or at the UN in New York, but can only come about through direct negotiations between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority’, said ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell in a statement on Monday. ‘The role of the international community is to help facilitate these negotiations, not replace them with unilateral declarations dictating the final outcome’, Sandell added.

On Wednesday, 17th December, on the Jewish holiday of Hannukah, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a non-binding resolution recognising a Palestinian state. Although the recognition would have no immediate political effect, its message would be detrimental to the peace process, Sandell believes.

‘The political message such a recognition would convey is that there is no need for negotiations or compromises on the Palestinian side in order to achieve statehood. This is an illusion’, warns Sandell. ‘The only way to reach a just and comprehensive peace agreement is through negotiations and costly compromises on both sides - not through unilateral declarations.’

The vote comes only weeks after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called for “a day of rage” in Jerusalem which led to the brutal murder of four Jewish rabbis while praying in a synagogue in Jerusalem.  Whilst Hamas remains committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, its moderate partner Fatah has also become radicalised in recent weeks, calling the mere presence of Jews on Temple mount “a contamination”. These and other statements of incitement have met with no protests in the EU capital, where parts of the European Parliament now want to rush through a recognition.

‘The EU cannot reward terrorism in one part of the Middle East, whilst trying to fight it elsewhere’, the open letter states. The EU’s main focus should be to fight Islamic radicalisation in the region and not punish the only true democracy and partner for peace.

The vote in the European Parliament is expected to be close. The left-leaning parties are committed to voting for statehood while the centre-right parties, by and large, are opposing it. Last week the second largest party group, the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, signed a new partnership agreement with Fatah, in an effort to further galvanise support for a Palestinian state.

In a similar letter to Ambassadors of Members of the UN Security Council in New York, ECI spells out the objections to a new UN resolution, imposing a solution to the conflict by dictating the conditions for a final peace agreement. The resolution, which is spearheaded by the Jordanians, demands full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within two years and full recognition of a Palestinian state.

The letter is accompanied by an ECI position paper on Palestinian statehood written by ECI legal counsel Andrew Tucker.

‘It is clear that Palestine does not constitute a state under international law, as it violates the first principle of the UN Charter for accepting new members in the UN, namely the commitment to peace’, he notes. ‘You cannot call for the destruction of another UN member state and at the same time apply for UN membership’, he concludes.

‘There can be no peace in the region as long as the UN fails to address the growing incitement against Jews and turns a blind eye to the radicalisation of the Palestinian Authority’, Sandell adds.

There are currently efforts in New York to present the UN resolution on the same day as the European Parliament vote - in other words, on the day of Hannukah.

In little more than a month, on January 27th, the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz will be marked by the UN and the EU.

‘As Europeans, we have a moral obligation to remind the international community of our commitment to the Jewish people by ensuring that they will be able to live in peace and security in their ancestral homeland.  If the European Parliament and the UN Security Council support a Palestinian Authority containing elements committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, we have learnt absolutely nothing from history', Sandell concludes.

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As we send out this latest report, the ECI Annual Policy Conference is already behind us and part of the ECI team is back at the UN in New York. Others remain on their watch in Europe, where more national parliaments are considering a vote in favor of a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

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ECI Calls Upon EU to Stop Funding of Hate

Brussels - ECI has called upon the EU to stop its funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA), as long as its leadership is responsible for incitement. In a panel discussion at the Annual Policy Conference in the European Parliament two weeks ago, ECI Director Tomas Sandell challenged Christian Berger, the EU’s top official for Middle East policy, to make EU aid to the PA conditional on an end to the incitement.  Recently, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called the presence of Jews on the Temple Mount a “contamination” and called for “a day of rage.”

- This is not the language of peace but of incitement and hate, Sandell said.  If we are to ever have peace in the Middle East, we have to stamp out this hatred. The European Union has the greatest responsibility to do this, as it is the single largest donor to the Palestinian Authority.

- We cannot fight terrorism in Syria and Iraq and put it in power in Ramallah, he said?making reference to the fact that terrorist organization Hamas is part of the PA unity government that EU is funding.  Berger, who listened to the arguments without protesting, agreed that education is the key to the peace process in the Middle East.

The 11th Annual Policy Conference honored the four rabbis that were brutally killed while in prayer at their local synagogue in Jerusalem, with a minute of silence.  In his closing statement, Sandell noted that the best way to protect religious freedom and human rights in Jerusalem is to keep Jerusalem united as the capital of Israel.

- The alternative is clear. When moderate Jordan controlled the Old City, Jews did not have access to the holy sites. Today people of all faiths can pray freely in the Holy City; and, we should keep it that way, if we want to be faithful to our universal values, Sandell concluded.

After the debate, Mr. Berger received a copy of the most recent ECI briefing paper on Palestinian statehood, written and handed over by ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker.  In the publication, ECI argues for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict and rejects a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state without a negotiated solution.  You can access the briefing paper here.

Joint Statement for Persecuted Christians and A Coherent EU Strategy Against Anti-Semitism

Brussels  - Some ten million people were indirectly represented in a joint statement, which was signed and handed over to Director Christian Berger, the Head of the Middle East division at the EEAS on Thursday in connection with the ECI Annual Conference. The statement was issued in support for the persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, as well as in support of a coherent EU strategy to stop the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

The statement calls for the establishment of safe havens for the refugees in Syria and Iraq, which also has the support of the largest political group in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party.  The European Coalition for Israel together with European Jewish Congress, Pentecostal European Fellowship, and Canadian human rights organization?One Free World International issued this statement. The joint statement is an expression of an unprecedented cooperation between Christians and Jews in Europe.  The letter was well received by Christian Berger who called it “an urgent matter.”  You can read the joint statement here.

Egyptian Human Rights Lawyer Stands Up for Israel

Brussels - One of the signatories of the joint statement was Egyptian born Rev. Majed El Shafie from the organization One Free World International.  Even after being brought up to believe that Israel was the eternal enemy of Egypt, El Shafie is now a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. El Shafie, who was born Muslim but later converted to Christianity, explained his reason for supporting Israel as: Jesus Christ.

When he had to flee Egypt, he found refuge in Israel.  Today, he sees growth in the unity of Christians and Jews in support of religious freedom and human rights around the world.   At the conference, he emphasized that Hamas and Isis are fruits from the same tree of radical Islam and that the EU needs to treat them as one.  Hamas and Isis do not only hate Jews and Christians, they hate everyone who disagrees with their totalitarian ideology of Sharia law, he said.

Other speakers at the conference included: host MEP Bas Belder, MEP Lars Adaktusson, MEP Branislav Skripek, Deputy-Ambassador Ronen-Gil Or, Vice President Raya Kalenova of the European Jewish Congress, ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker, and ECI Chairman Harald Eckert.  On Friday, ECI organized a training day where, Andrew Tucker, Harald Eckert, Tomas Sandell, Gregory Lafitte, Elise Coolegem, and Faith Collins were speaking. ECI European Director Perrine Dufoix moderated the banquet dinner.  A video report from the conference will be posted in the next weeks.

European Parliament to vote on Palestinian statehood on 17th December - Time to contact your MEP now

On Wednesday, December 17, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a resolution, which would encourage the EU member states to recognize a Palestinian state.

  • Please e-mail your member in the coming days and weeks to express your views on this sensitive issue.
  • Please write freely and use your own language when writing to your MEP.

Palestine is not a state under international law and does not meet the UN criteria for statehood:

- It does not have a governing authority, which is capable of governing the whole of the claimed Palestinian territories.  PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is currently not able to visit Gaza for fear of his life.

- Article 4 of the UN Charter requires UN member states to be “peace loving.” Terrorist organization Hamas, which is part of the PA unity government, continues to call for the destruction of the State of Israel!

For a more comprehensive documentation on the issue of Palestinian statehood, please read here.

Our message is this: We cannot support terror.  Recognizing a Palestinian state now, would weaken the prospect for peace.

Coming events

Global Prayer Call Conference in Krakow, 25th-29th January, 2015.

On the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau ECI will co-organize a Prayer conference in Krakow.  This will mark the beginning of the 100 days of prayer and fasting, leading up to the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War 2 and the end of the Holocaust. On the evening of the 27th, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, ECI will co-host a concert in the synagogue of Krakow together with the Jewish community.

For more information see previous e-mail of 1 December or visit the conference website www.100-days.eu

Editor Tomas Sandell tomas.sandell@pp.inet.fi

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