----- by LUISA MORGANTINI , Vice President of the European Parliament
"Israel IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW"
The European Parliament suspends the vote on the upgrade of EU -
The European Parliament (EP) today postponed the vote on the
proposal by the EU Commission and Council for the draft recommendation
to conclude a Protocol to the EU-Israel Association Agreement and on the
general principles governing the State of Israel's participation in
Community programmes . The vote was originally scheduled for tomorrow,
Thursday, December 4, in the EP in Brussels.
This vote would have been an important step in the process of
upgrading EU-Israel relations, which was requested by the Israeli
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni, during her hearing in the EP
Committee on Foreign Affairs, within the framework of the Protocol for
the Association Agreement between EU and Israel. However, the European
Parliament voted differently : the majority of parliamentarians
called for a postponement of the vote to another date yet to be
determined, as requested by the GUE/NGL and Greens groups, with
agreement from the Socialist Party, some of the Liberals (ALDE) and
some MEPs from the Popular Party.
"It's time for the Israeli Government to stop considering
itself above the law and start respecting it, beginning by freezing
all settlement -building activities and ending its siege on the Gaza
Strip. Until the Israeli Government signals its willingness to abide by
international law and especially human rights and humanitarian law, the
European Parliament is not disposed to vote," declared Luisa Morgantini,
Vice President of the European Parliament.
"Today's vote is an important political message, directed not
against Israel, but at pushing the Israeli leadership to respect their
obligations in order to achieve tangible results from the
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, so that they can reach a peaceful
solution and the security of the two peoples. It is also a signal to
the EU Council and Commission, that they must put pressure on Israel to
stop its colonization of the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territory.
But this vote is also a sign of hope for the Palestinians,
telling them that the European Parliament is not deaf to the suffering
of people in Gaza and the West Bank, and that the EP is not only
determined to verbally criticize the situation but to take concrete
action for the respect of human rights and international law.
It is also an answer to PM Salam Fayyad, who launched an appeal
to the EU to not upgrade its relations with Israel since after
Annapolis there have not been improvements, neither in lifting the
closures on Palestinian areas nor freezing settlements; it is also an
answer to Palestinian civil society and to the NGOs that have sent many
letters to European Parliamentarians.
Finally this vote is positive for us Europeans, who are showing
to ourselves and to the entire world that respect for human rights and
the achievement of justice are not an abstract declaration of
principles," concluded Luisa Morgantini.
INFO : www.luisamorgantini.net