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EU must hold Israel accountable for occupation: Ex-leaders

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinian protesters wave national flags during a protest against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, May 8, 2015. © AFP

A group of former European political leaders and diplomats have called on the European Union (EU) to reassess its policy on Israel, stressing that Tel Aviv must be held responsible for its occupation of Palestinian lands.

European Eminent Persons Group - which includes former premiers, foreign ministers and ambassadors - made the request in a letter to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, the British daily The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

“Europe has yet to find an effective way of holding Israel to account for the way it maintains the occupation,” the letter read.

The authors of the letter also expressed doubt about the ability of the United States to lead talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

They further called for Brussels’ support for an upcoming draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

“If this means recognition of a Palestine government-in-waiting for the territories within the pre-1967 borders, or the setting of a deadline for the negotiation of a [so-called] two-state solution, the EU should be united in support,” the letter read. 

In December last year, Palestinians presented a bid for statehood to the Security Council with Washington and Tel Aviv formulating a joint opposition against the move. The resolution failed to garner the requisite majority.

Touching on the issue of illegal Israeli settler units, the letter further demanded “tougher measures to contain settlement expansion” in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Palestinians from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh wave their national flag during a demonstration on April 28, 2015, as they stand on a house after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers. © AFP


More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967.

Much of the international community regards the settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 war and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied land.


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