Israel has been occupying the Palestinian Territory since 1967. This prolonged occupation is at the root of many violations and regularly triggers sporadic wars, resulting in grave breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law, including alleged war crimes. Despite the abundance of documentation of such breaches, accountability and justice remain elusive.
Israel maintains its illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, imposing collective punishment and denying its 1.8 million residents their right to health, education, food, water and an adequate standard of living. In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians are denied their rights to assembly and movement, while the construction of illegal settlements goes on unabated. Civilians, including children, are tried in military courts and are subject to torture and ill-treatment in prisons and detention centers, while the perpetrators of such violations are rarely brought to justice.
These violations extend beyond the Occupied Territory into Israel where, in particular the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and other minorities regularly see their rights curtailed by discriminatory state practices and legislation. NGOs in Israel continue to face obstacles to the conduct of their work.
The Palestinian authorities are also guilty of abuse against their own people, denying them the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Critical journalists and bloggers are arbitrarily arrested and harassed, prisoners ill-treated and tortured and the autonomy of NGOs is restricted. Meanwhile Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have also committed alleged war crimes, including the targeting of civilians during the successive wars on Gaza.
EuroMed Rights Working Group on Israel/Palestine and the Palestinians was established in 2001 and is composed of Israeli, Palestinian, Arab and European member organizations. It convenes twice a year to discuss strategy aimed at promoting respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in particular in the EU’s foreign policy and bilateral relations with Israel and the Palestinian leadership.
The aim of the Working Group on Palestine/Israel and the Palestinians is to promote respect for human rights and international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. In this context, the Working Group works towards the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and the realisation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; securing the right of civilians, including Palestinians and Israelis, to protection under international law is at the core of this work. The Working Group also works towards securing the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Palestinian refugees in host countries.
To achieve these goals the group is focused on and actively involved in advocacy work in the EU and the UN, as well as in other fora and urges the international community to adhere to its own obligations and commitments under International Law.
The Working Group’s work focusses on the following topics:
- Accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity
- The separation and fragmentation of the Occupied Palestinian territory, including through Israel’s settlement policy and the Gaza closure
- The rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees
- The rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel
- The rights of Palestinian refugees