Suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement

Press release
en fr
Sarah Cadon, CCFD- Terre Solidaire

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and 195 civil society organisations are calling on European Union (UE) decision-makers to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement without delay in light of the human rights violations committed by the State of Israel.

Paris, 12 March 2024. Respect for human rights is an essential element of the EU’s association agreements with partner countries. Article 2 states that "relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement". Violation of the so-called "essential elements" clauses allows the EU to denounce or suspend the agreements in whole or in part under Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. In the light of the deaths and suffering endured by the Palestinian people, the European Union has the duty and the means to act to prevent Israel’s crimes in Gaza and to reduce the extent of human suffering.

Read the Open Letter below, adressed to:

President Ursula von der Leyen, Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission
Mr Charles Michel, President of the European Council
Ms Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Mr Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Dear Madams/Sirs,

The undersigned organisations call on the EU to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement in light of the violation of human rights by the State of Israel. These human rights violations constitute a violation of the ‘’essential elements’’ clauses which state that the Agreement is conditional upon the parties’ respect for human rights and democratic principles. We unequivocally condemn all violations of international law, in particular the killing of civilians and call on the relevant authorities to investigate them without delay .

Israel’s current war on Gaza is causing massive civilian casualties, extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure and the displacement of the overwhelming majority of the population in Gaza. The health system in Gaza has collapsed, hospitals have been bombed and destroyed, health staff killed. The population of Gaza is at imminent risk of famine and death by contagious disease. This is the result of the bombardment of Gaza and blockage by Israel of food, water, fuel, medicines, humanitarian aid and disruption of the sewage system. These are clear, well-documented violations of the human rights of Palestinians.

Human rights abuses by the Israel government did not start in 2023, however. The United Nations Human Rights Council has concluded that prior to this period grave human rights abuses have been committed. The establishment and expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank is among these human rights violations, leading to, among others, the expropriation of private land owned by Palestinians, racial segregation due to the forced eviction of Palestinians and the demolition of their property, a climate of impunity for perpetrators of settler violence and the involvement of Israeli security forces in such violence, and restrictions of freedom of movement for Palestinians. The European Council expressed its concerns over the blockade of the Gaza strip (prior to October 2023) and called on military operations to be proportionate, in line with international humanitarian law and for Israel to ease restrictions in the Gaza strip.

The EU considers respect for human rights to constitute an essential element of EU association agreements with partner countries. The provisions of the EU-Israel Association Agreement states that the parties establish the association “considering the importance which the Parties attach…[ ] to the principles of the United Nations Charter, particularly the observance of human rights and democracy, which form the very basis of the Association;”... and Article 2 states that “relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.”

The violation of the so-called “essential elements” clauses enables the EU to terminate or suspend fully or partially the agreements, in accordance with Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Article 82 of the Association Agreement provides that “Each of the Parties may denounce the Agreement by notifying the other Party.”

In spite of the above mentioned, and other well-documented violations of human rights and democratic principles by the State of Israel, its economy continues to enjoy privileged access to the EU market through the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Trade between the EU and Israel has increased substantially since the signing of the agreement in 2000. The EU is Israel’s biggest trade partner, accounting for 28.8% of its trade in goods in 2022.

According to EU official policy outlined in the "Common Approach on the use of political clauses", agreed by Coreper in 2009, five “serious breaches of the essential elements clauses may trigger the suspension in whole or part of the overall framework agreement and all the linked agreements, including the trade agreement (non-execution clause).” There can be no denying that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians constitutes at the very least, a serious breach of the human rights clauses in the EU-Israel Association Agreement. It would appear that any political and human rights dialogue that the EU has held with Israel has not been effective in preventing these violations, war crimes and other crimes against humanity.

On the 26th of January 2024, the International Court of Justice ruled that the at least some of the accusations by South Africa that Israel is committing genocide are plausible. The judges established that it is appropriate to investigate the evidence presented, accept the charges and dismissed Israel’s call to reject the trial. The court ordered Israel to take measures to prevent a possible genocide in progress that include allowing more humanitarian aid into Gaza and acting against those who issue genocidal statements. Though the final verdict is yet unknown, the fact that the ICJ considered South Africa’s claims as "plausible" and has issued provisional measures against Israel should raise serious alarm bells in the EU. Regardless of the final ruling of the ICJ, the provisional ruling has direct implications for third party states to the Genocide Convention, to employ all lawful means at their disposal to influence Israel to refrain from acts in breach of the Genocide Convention, including the withholding, reduction, or suspension of any and all forms of assistance, or the suspension or review of trade negotiations and agreements.”

What is currently happening in Gaza is the consequence of a political and moral failure of the international community. Suspension of the Association Agreement over the violation of the Agreement’s human rights clauses would send a strong message that the EU’s commitment to human rights is more than just rhetoric.

We urge you to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement without delay.

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  • Co-signatories

    Attac Austria
    Belgian Academics and Artists for Palestine (BA4P)
    Broederlijk Delen
    Entraide & Fraternité
    Grupo belga Solidair met Guatemala
    MOC (Mouvement Ouvrier Chrétien)
    Viva Salud
    Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
    ECCP - European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine
    European Coordination of La Via Campesina
    European Trade Union Network for Justice in Palestine
    Friends of the Earth Finland
    ActionAid France
    Amis de la Terre France
    Amis de Sabeel France
    Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine
    Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
    BDS France
    CADTM France
    CCFD-Terre Solidaire
    Collectif Stop Mercosur
    Confédération paysanne
    Culture de Palestine
    Fédération Artisans du Monde
    Fédération internationale pour les droits humains
    Foodwatch France
    Ligue des droits de l’Homme
    MRAP (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les peuples)
    Nature et Solidarité
    Pax Christi France
    Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine
    La Cimade
    Syndicat de l’éducation nationale SNES
    BIP-jetzt e.V.
    Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft e.V.
    Flüchtlingskinder im Libanon e.V.
    Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions Germany
    Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue Group Munich
    Palestine Solidarity Committee Stuttgart
    Naturefriends Greece
    Greek Affiliate of IPPNW
    ActionAid International
    CADTM International
    Afri (Action from Ireland)
    Centre for Global Education
    Christian Aid Ireland
    Comhlámh Trade Justice
    Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign
    Financial Justice Ireland
    Fracking Free Clare
    Friends of the Earth Ireland
    Ireland Palestine Mental Health Network
    Not Here Not Anywhere
    Sadaka - The Ireland Palestine Alliance
    Síolta Chroí
    Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign
    Irish Congress of Trade Unions
    STAND & Suas Educational Development
    Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient
    Handel Anders! coalitie
    Overijssel voor Palestina
    Rotterdam Palestina Coalitie
    Stichting Groningen-Jabalya
    Transnational Institute (TNI)
    Northern Ireland
    Unison NI
    Polish Zero Waste Association
    Panteras Rosa - Frente de Combate à LesBiGayTransfobia
    TROCA - Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional Justo
    Aliança per l’emergència climàtica València (País Valencià)
    Alternativa Antimilitarista MOC
    AMAL – Asociación Madrileña de Ateos y Librepensadores
    Amigos de la Tierra
    Arrels – Associació Cultural i Medi Ambiental
    Asamblea Antibelicista de Teruel
    Asamblea Antimilitarista Madrid
    Asamblea Ciudadana Gana Guadix
    Asamblea Plaza de los Pueblos Madrid
    Asociación AcTúa por un Mundo Sostenible
    Asociación Canaria de Juristas por la Paz y los Derechos Humanos – JUPADEHU
    (Canarian Islands)
    Asociación Comunidad Palestina en Canarias
    Asociación Cultural "La Moravilla"
    Asociación de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui de Sevilla
    Asociación de Juristas Afroeuropeos - Ajae
    Asociación de la Comunidad Hispano-Palestina “Jerusalén”
    Asociación Democracia y Salud
    Asociación Feministas San Blas Canillejas
    Asociación Iniciativa Cambio Personal, Justicia Global
    Asociación Internacional de Juristas por Sáhara Occidental - IAJUWS
    Asociación Madrileña de Enfermería Gerontológica - AMEG
    Asociación Madrileña de Salud Pública (AMaSaP)
    Asociación para la Defensa de la Sanidad Pública de Madrid
    Asociación para la Defensa de las Pensiones Públicas de Canarias
    Asociación Pueblos Vivos Cuenca
    Asociación Sapiencia
    Asociación Taller Educación en Valores Alternativos (CALA)
    Asociación Uyamaa
    Assemblea 15M Sarrià-Sant Gervasi (Catalonia)
    ATTAC España
    Avance Solidario
    Bicicletos Viajes
    Bienvenidxs Refugiadxs Huesca
    Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Canarias
    Centro Social Tiritanas Comunal
    CGT - Confederación General del Trabajo
    Col.lectiu Agudells (Catalonia)
    Colectivo "Antifascistas Elsa Wolff"
    Colectivo "Pasaje Seguro Cantabria"
    Colectivo Noviolencia
    Comando Violeta - Colectivo Feminista de Cuenca
    Comisiones Obreras (CCOO)
    Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe
    Comité de Solidaridad con los Pueblos - Interpueblos Cantabria
    Comité Oscar Romero
    Comunidad Hispano Palestina en Sevilla
    Comunidad Santo Tomás de Aquino
    Confederación Intersindical
    Confederación Intersindical Galega (CIG) (Galicia)
    Coordinadora Estatal por la Defensa del Sistema Público de Pensiones - Córdoba
    Cristianos de Base
    Dones x Dones
    Ecologistas en Acción
    ELA (Basque Country)
    Feministas Usera
    Fridays for Future Spain
    Fundación Aequitas
    Fundacion Atabal
    Grupo Cristiano de Reflexión-Acción
    Grupo de Noviolencia Elaia
    Grupo de Reflexión y Formación Cristiana de Gerena (Sevilla)
    Huesca con Palestina
    Iniciativas de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo - ICID
    Intersindical de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores de Aragón (ISTA)
    Intersindical Solidària (País Valencià)
    La Comuna - Asociación de presos y represaliados por la dictadura franquista
    LAB sindikatua (Basque Country)
    Llegat Jaume Botey i Vallès (Catalonia)
    Lurgatz Talde Feminista (Basque Country)
    Madrid Solidaria con Palestina
    Madrileños por el Derecho a Decidir
    Médicos del Mundo
    Movimiento No Violencia
    Observatori DESC (Catalonia)
    Organización Nacional para el Diálogo y la Participación - ONDA
    Plataforma "Alicante por la Paz"
    Plataforma Aturem la Guerra (Catalonia)
    Plataforma ciudadana "Stop Mare Mortum"
    Plataforma Ciudadana de Córdoba por la Defensa del Sistema Público de Pensiones
    Plataforma Córdoba con Palestina
    Plataforma de Sanitari@s con Palestina
    Plataforma de Tenerife con Palestina
    Red de Solidaridad Popular de Jinámar
    Reds - Red de solidaridad para la transformación social (Catalonia)
    Respeto Animal Murcia
    Revista Alandar
    Revista La Mar de Onuba
    Revuelta Mujeres en la Iglesia
    Rubí Solidari (Catalonia)
    Rumbo a Gaza
    Saharacciones Tenerife (Canarian Islands)
    SETEM Catalunya (Catalonia)
    Sindicato de Admnistración Pública de CGT Alicante
    Sindicato de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores de la Administración de Castilla y León -
    Sociedad Española de Profesorado y Plataforma de Filosofía (SEPFi)
    SUDS - Associació Internacional de Solidaritat i Cooperació (Catalonia)
    Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
    Yayoflautas de Córdoba
    Zehar-Errefuxiatuekin (Basque Country)

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