Israel/Palestine – One step closer to the normalisation of the occupation

EuroMed Rights strongly condemns the Israeli governments’ announcement on 24 January 2017 to build 2,500 new housing units in the West Bank and its approval of building permits for 566 new houses in occupied East Jerusalem only two days before. These decisions are the last of a series of concerted efforts aimed at fragmenting the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its population and normalising Israel’s prolonged occupation.

In December 2016 the Israeli Knesset passed the first reading of the ‘Regularisation Bill’ which, if passed, would retroactively legalise a number of unauthorised Israeli settlement outposts built on Palestinian land. This would signify a dangerous step towards the annexation of the West Bank as it allows Israel to extend its sovereignty over its West Bank settlements.

Such moves illustrate a sheer disregard for international law, the right to Palestinian self-determination and the overwhelming international consensus on Israel’s unlawful settlement policy. As reiterated by UN Security Council Resolution 2334, Israel’s settlement policy constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, is considered a war crime.

The European Union and its Member States must respond resolutely to this increasingly brazen policy, if they are to defend their stated objectives in the region. In this regard, further steps are needed to advance the EU’s policy on the non-recognition of Israeli settlements which was recently endorsed by the UN Security Council. This includes further steps to differentiate, in its relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the OPT including through steps to prevent illegal settlement products from accessing European markets. The EU and its Member States must also unequivocally condition the further deepening of relations with Israel on its commitment to common values, including respect for international law, as stated in the current EU-Israel Action Plan. The violations of international law by the Israeli authorities and their impunity perpetuate instability in the region and undermine efforts at achieving a lasting peace.