By Sarhan Basem, (Newswire Now) – While the world is preoccupied fighting the economic, political, and social repercussions of Coronavirus, Israel has not stopped its big ambition to annex Arab lands, declaring its intention to go ahead with annexing parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, in flagrant breach of International law. This ambition is a crucial part of the US deal of the centaury.
In this article, I interview Evin Incir, Member of the European Parliament for Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. Incir is also Member of Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and Vice-Chair in Delegation for Relations with Palestine. She is also member of many other sub committees in the Parliament.
What are the practical procedures the EP considers to face the century deal for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict? What are your efforts to achieve the two-state solution?
First of all, the US proposed so-called “deal of the century” or “peace to prosperity” is not a peace plan. The plan is in violation of the most fundamental principles of international law, the relevant UN resolutions and breach of Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The plan risks fuelling the conflict and would have serious consequences for Israel, Palestine, Jordan and the wider region.
The European Union has made clear its commitment to a viable and negotiated two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with two democratic states living side by side in peace and security. The EU must exhaust all its diplomatic capacities to block steps towards illegal annexations and ensure that the international rules-based order remains intact.
In my new role as the European Parliaments rapporteur for Palestine, I will be dedicated to this goal. Too long time has passed, with people on both sides of the barbwire and wall continuing to suffer. The EU must work toward an immediate end of the occupation of Palestine. As first step, a Palestinian state according to 67 borders should be recognized. We cannot move forward if we do not ensure the respect for democracy, the rule of law and international law. The peace process will remain at standstill unless a viable two-state solution accepted by all remains a clear goal. EU can and should have a more proactive role in the negotiation processes, which the one-sidedness of the US proposal elevates even further.
As the discussions are currently ongoing on how to respond to the urgent and alarming situation, it is premature to fully pinpoint procedural steps. Yet, the Union is not lacking options given the strong economic ties and aid budgets for instance, and there are a number of policy approaches that can be considered. The EU ought to show political resolve and push for the recognition of the state of Palestine according to the borders of 1967. The EU should apply a conditionality-principle for the deepening of relations tied to the progress of the peace process, as well as strengthen the EU differentiation policy to bring clearer incentives to return to the negotiating table.
EU at this point has to exercise all diplomatic capacities and reach out to both Washington and Arab countries, and putting weight behind it with concrete actions should the Israeli government unilaterally move ahead with the plan of illegal annexation.
- As US to recognize Israel Annexation of West Bank, and Jordan Valley, how does the EP plan to respond to this step by Israel.?
As stated, any move of annexation of the west bank or the Jordan valley would constitute a blatant violation of international law, and undermining the EU-Israel Association agreement under article 2. The European Union must act accordingly.
Taking note of the fact that negotiations are still ongoing on various levels, the responsive steps will hopefully be clearer soon. Yet, the European Parliament remains committed to a lasting peace in the Middle East, and the work to reaffirm the goal of a negotiated, viable and fair two-state solution that enjoys the support of both parties.
- What does the EP expect from the new Israeli government led by Netenyahu?
The new Israeli government was formed only a few days ago, and it is still early to tell but we are closely monitoring the situation. There is of course serious concern regarding the Netanyahu-led government, as the coalition agreement risks putting the peace process in the entire region back decades, should the rhetoric be realised and Israel proceeds with the illegal annexation of occupied territories.
The European Unions position remains clear, it will not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank nor any changes to 1967 borders without both parties being in agreement. Any and all annexation would be a serious violation of international law and relevant UNSCR such as 242 and 338 as well as 1397 and 2334.
We expect that all diplomatic capacities of the EU and international actors will be directed to thwart the dangerous path indicated. It must ensure that the new government of Israel respects international law, ensure the resumption of a constructive and viable dialogue with its Palestinian neighbours and refrain from any decisions of annexation of Palestinian territory.
- What are your efforts to stop Israeli to demolish homes of Palestinian prisoners?
My answer applies on the demolishing of Palestinian prisoners, as well as Palestinians in general. The measures taken under the auspices of the Israeli settlement policy, including the demolition of Palestinian homes, forced displacement and destruction of means of livelihood, is illegal under international law and has been met with condemnation. The EU has been clear that the Israeli authorities must immediately halt measures of this sort.
The diplomatic channels are of course raising this issue consistently, and should this fall on deaf ears, EU must act accordingly and resolutely. The means of conditionality and differentiation again would be key tools to consider for the EU in responding to advancements of illegal settlements.
- How does the EU work to prevent the outbreak of any new military confrontations between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip?
In the short term perspective, EU supports measures to prevent a serious covid-19 outbreak in Gaza. This is imperative not only for humanitarian reasons but also for conflict prevention. In this regard, there has been certain level of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian factions in dealing with the imminent crisis, which EU continues to encourage.
EU maintains its line of addressing the fundamental responsibilities of Israel as the occupying power has to be met, allowing all vital humanitarian aid to come into the strip, and that financial contribution should be made from Israel. This pertains to materials for construction, upholding water and sanitation supplies, which are both short and long term essential for the Gaza strip.
Beyond the immediate crisis, the EU have to continue to work towards increasing the support for a socio-economic recovery of Gaza, which requires an immediate end to the blockade that prevents such recovery. This would also open the possibility for a strengthening of the fragile ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel. People on both sides have been suffering for too long now and need peace and a possibility to live in democracy and prosperity.
By Sarhan Basem, exclusively for Newswire Now network.
Sarhan Basem Accredited Journalist to the European Commission and Member of the International Federations of Journalists( IFJ). He is also an international Journalist who reported from a number of war zones in the Middle East.
Views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Newswire now. Newswire now does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, topicality or quality of the information provided.