BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Tuesday called on the European Union to review its relations with Israel in light of its persistent violations of international law.
The EU-Israeli Association's annual meeting, held in Brussels on Tuesday, is an opportunity for the EU to ensure any economic relations with Israel are contingent on its compliance with international obligations, Ashrawi said in a statement.
"Rather than rewarding Israel by giving it preferential treatment,the EU should use its economic influence to end Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine."
"As the market for 60 percent of Israel’s exports, the EU has the ability to prevent Israel from destroying the chances for peace. All it needs is the political will," Ashrawi said.
By expanding cooperation between government agencies and within business sectors, Ashrawi said the EU was separating issues of international law from issues of trade and economy, "allowing the EU to ignore Israel's ongoing violations" against Palestinians.
She urged the EU to revoke any preferential treatment Israel receives in view of its "willful and persistent violations of its agreements and obligations."
Article 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean agreement conditions Israel's membership on respect for human rights and democratic principles, she noted, while Article 83 precludes applicability to all the occupied territories and so excludes settlement produce.
The executive director of international aid agency Oxfam Jeremy Hobbs also called Tuesday on the EU "to step up and take a leadership role" and to match its condemnations of settlement expansion "with urgent and concrete measures."
"Europe's condemnation of Israel's settlement expansion is welcome but words alone mean nothing when people's lives keep worsening," Hobbs said in a statement.
At the 2011 EU-Israeli Association meeting, statements condemning Israeli settlement expansion were issued "yet we've seen a sharp rise in new settlement construction across the West Bank," he added.
"Meanwhile, Palestinian displacement and Israeli-led demolition of Palestinian homes and water cisterns, many of which were funded by EU taxpayers, has increased."