-----  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 -

Israel relations


         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