EU must push for respect of international law at Middle East Quartet meeting – CIDSE

EU must push for respect of international law at Middle East Quartet meeting

EU must push for respect of international law at Middle East Quartet meeting, Catholic development agencies say

(Brussels, 4 February 2011)The Middle East Quartet (EU, USA, UN and Russia) meet in Munich tomorrow 5 February in a bid to resolve the deadlock following the collapse of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks as dark clouds loom over the future of the peace process. Several member organisations of the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE are involved the region through partners in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). They say that the EU urgently needs to take corresponding political action against internationally unlawful measures which are restricting the scope for the EU’s aid to the oPt and obstructing the possibility of a peaceful and secure two-state solution.

The EU cannot wait for the peace process to result in an end of these violations, as there may never be peace because of them,” said Deborah Casalin, CIDSE’s Palestine-Israel policy officer.

Current violations of international humanitarian and human rights law include:

  • The illegal blockade on Gaza is still hampering reconstruction efforts after Operation Cast Lead: only 7% of UNRWA’s reconstruction plan has been approved, and two approved projects had to stop because of a lack of materials. Despite announcements by Israeli authorities that closure measures would be eased, the increased volume of imports consistently represents less than half of the need, and the announced expansion of goods permitted to exit Gaza has not yet materialised. 
  • Movement and access restrictions in the West Bank continue to impede Palestinians’ access to their land, markets, employment and education, thus stifling social and economic development. The restrictions deter private investment and therefore increase reliance on foreign aid.
  • Planning and zoning restrictions – implemented to entrench expanding illegal Israeli settlements – exclude the development of Palestinian infrastructure, facilities and housing in almost 60% of the West Bank (Israeli-controlled Area C). These restrictions are invoked in order to demolish homes and infrastructure in breach of international humanitarian law – according to UN OCHA, demolitions in 2010 more than doubled in comparison to 2009 (431 and 189 structures demolished respectively). This not only further violates the socio-economic rights of an already vulnerable population, but reverses the process of development which the EU seeks to advance.
  • The relative success of donor-assisted governance and security reform in the oPt has been marred by continuing reports of human rights abuses by Palestinian security forces, including torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and the suppression of freedom of association, expression and assembly. In both the West Bank and Gaza, peaceful demonstrations in solidarity with Tunisian and Egyptian protesters were suppressed in recent days. Six women in Gaza were detained for their participation; a number of other demonstrators in Ramallah (including two journalists and an NGO worker) were reportedly beaten and arrested.

CIDSE calls upon the EU to use its full weight within the Quartet, and in its bilateral relations with Israel and the Palestinians, to insist on respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and the ending of measures which unlawfully restrict the EU’s humanitarian and development aid to the oPt.

The EU has already committed 100 million Euros in development aid to the oPt for 2011, aiming at building an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestine to live alongside Israel in peace and security. CIDSE welcomes the EU’s initiative in calling this high-level meeting, hoping that it will signal a new era of strong EU action at the forefront of Middle East peace efforts to match the EU’s role as the biggest aid donor to (oPt).

Contact:
For more information and to set up interviews, please contact Deborah Casalin, Deborah.Casalin@broederlijkdelen.be, +32 2 213 0432 (office)

Notes to the editors:

CIDSE is an international alliance of Catholic development agencies. Its members share a common strategy in their efforts to eradicate poverty and establish global justice. The members of the Working Group on Palestine/Israel – Broederlijk Delen, CAFOD, CCFD, Cordaid, Misereor and Trócaire – are actively involved in the region through partners in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Together with our local partners, we work to reduce poverty and build peace through development and humanitarian programmes.

    • Development depends on furthering respect for international humanitarian and human rights law – An analysis of EU aid to the occupied Palestinian territory  (December 2010)
    • Gaza: Dignity under siege – voices from behind the blockade  (in EN, FR and NL, November 2009)
    • The EU’s aid to the occupied Palestinian territory (II)  – the deepening crisis in Gaza (June 2009) 
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