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EU calls for 'fundamental change' to Israeli policy

July 21, 2015 11:39 A.M. (Updated: July 21, 2015 7:09 P.M.)
A Palestinian flag flies near the Palestinian community of Khirbet Susiya, which Israel has earmarked for demolition. (MaanImages/Charlie Hoyle)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The European Union reaffirmed its commitment to the Middle East peace process on Monday, but said that it depended on a "fundamental change" to Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The EU council, which met in Brussels on Monday, called on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, settlement construction, home demolitions and the "forced transfer" of Palestinian communities, including those of Susiya and Abu Nuwwar.

"The status-quo is not an option," the EU said, adding: "There is no alternative to a negotiated two state solution."

The council met buoyed by the success of last week's Iran nuclear deal.

"We have seen very concretely that diplomacy in the long run can deliver," said Federica Mogherini, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs. "Perseverance can pay."

The EU council said it was committed to "securing a just and lasting peace," but noted its concerns over Israeli policy.

It pointed in particular to the beleaguered Gaza Strip, which has suffered three wars in the past six years and a crippling eight-year Israeli blockade.

"An immediate priority must be to address the grave situation in the Gaza Strip," the council said. "One year after the conflict, the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the Gaza Strip remains dire."

It demanded "a fundamental change of the political, security and economic situation in the Gaza Strip, including the end of the closure and a full opening of the crossing points," in reference to the blockade.

The EU council also acknowledged Israel's "legitimate security concerns," saying that rocket fire from Gaza must also end.

The body noted concern at the lack of donor funding to the coastal enclave, particularly to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which in recent months has had to roll back several of its emergency relief programs.

In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the EU condemned Israel's settlement policy, as well as "demolitions and confiscation -- including of EU funded projects -- evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts, settler violence and restrictions of movement and access."

It pointed in particular to the demolition and forced transfer of the Palestinian communities of Khirbet Susiya and Abu Nuwwar.

Last week, the Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of around half of the homes in Khirbet Susiya to be carried out after Ramadan, Israeli watchdogs said.

The Bedouin community of Abu Nuwwar east of Jerusalem, meanwhile, has been under threat for years.

The Israeli authorities said in May that the demolition of the community's homes was imminent, as they cleared way for the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim.

The EU reiterated its call for Palestinians to be allowed to build and develop in land classified as Area C under the Oslo Accords, saying that it would "strengthen the prosperity and security of both Israelis and Palestinians."

The council said that facts on the ground were rapidly eroding the viability of a two-state solution, but warned that "the regional context, including the ongoing radicalization and spread of terrorism, makes it even more urgent to end the conflict."

The EU called for greater national unity among Palestinians, saying that the PA should take "greater responsibility" in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian talks of forming a new government have been in disarray since the dissolution of the current unity government was mooted last month.

The EU last week made a payment of $15 million to the PA to support poor Palestinian families living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in the second installment of $46 million the EU pledged the PA this year.

In general, however, the international community has failed to fulfill donor pledges made last year in the aftermath of Gaza's devastating 50-day war.
Legal Eagle / Australia
The EU should butt out of internal Palestinian politics, and encourage free, fair and open democratic elections, not an illegitimate PA takeover of Gaza. The PA is a corrupt Zionist puppet, and Palestinians neither want nor respect it. Let the Palestinian people decide their future, not the EU.
21/07/2015 12:18
Carol Scheller / Switzerland
For a "fundamental change" - how about ending the occupation ?
21/07/2015 13:11
spb / usa
Israel has no problem if EU opens up to gaza palestinians traveling from Egypt. But asking to allow enemies sworn to its destruction to move freely in and out amount to begging Israel to commit a suicide. That in many places is irrational request
21/07/2015 13:15
Oliveland / Palestine
Total hypocrisy , the EU bolsters Israel with preferential trade agreements and UNSC protection and then says it is "concerned" about ethnic cleansing and meanwhile throws away a few million Euros on projects that will be destroyed by Israel . Palestine does not need solar panels, it needs FREEDOM .
21/07/2015 17:27
Jon / USA
When, not if, Israel does not comply with any of these suggestions, what next? Is the EU willing to impose sanctions on Israeli goods and services, support a BDS of Israel? Until they are ready to act, nothing will happen as Israel will snub this. EU needs to act, not talk.
21/07/2015 18:28
Tobias / USA
Israel should call for a "fundamental change to the EU's policy", or ask
- the EU to stay out of internal Israeli matters, as
- the State of Israel stays out of internal EU matters,
regarding self defense, construction permitting, etc. !!
21/07/2015 19:23
Futile / Calls
EU calls for Iran to stop being Islamic and sponsoring terrorism will be equally successful, for
-1- The EU states can change EU policy, just as the State of Israel can change Israel policy, but
-2- Neither can change the policies of the other, and such "calls" to change will just be ignored.
22/07/2015 07:07
inbound39 / New Zealand
It is time to put action to the Words and Mogherini needs to impose tough sanctions on Israel to show it means business. International Law is the conditions. The efforts put into the Iran deal show the EU and US the way forward with the Israel Palestinian Conflict is through no nonsense negotiation
22/07/2015 10:18
@ Carol / USA
"How about" being realistic?
23/07/2015 21:16
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