The European Union should not upgrade ties with Israel as long as the latter expands West Bank settlements, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a meeting with EU diplomats on Monday.
Fayyad called together all EU heads of mission today ahead of the European Council meeting on December 8 and the plenary session of the European Parliament on December 4 at which the EU is expected to make a decision about whether to upgrade its relations with Israel.
Palestinian Information Minister Riad Malki said Fayyad gave the diplomats a letter that refers to the dangers of an upgrade of EU-Israel relations as long as settlement construction continues.
In a press statement, Luisa Morgantini, the Vice President of the European Parliament, said Fayyad began by thanking the EU for the position it has taken since January on the illegality of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, commending the United Kingdom in particular to take concrete measures in line with this position.
Morgantini quoted Fayyad as saying that the decision of an EU-Israel upgrade is “also a defining moment for (the Palestinians') relationship with the EU...Nothing at this stage matters more than a principled position by the EU on the matter of the upgrade when considered in the context of Israel’s non-compliance with international law and the Road Map.”
In the week that the EU is talking about the upgrade, by all objective accounts, including those of the UN and international aid agencies, “the misery index in Gaza has never been higher” due in particular to Israel’s near-complete closure of Gaza during the past three weeks, Morgantini quoted Fayyad as saying.
According to Morgantini, Fayyad claimed that settlement activity has accelerated since Annapolis, and checkpoints, home demolitions and evictions have all increased.
'Sending the wrong message'
Fayyad said that Israeli candidates are not talking about settlements or the occupation during their election campaign, in part because the world community is not telling Israel that there is a “trade-off” for internationally unlawful behavior. With an upgrade at this time, “the message you will be sending to the Israeli electorate is that the EU will upgrade its relations regardless of Israel’s behavior,” Fayyad stated.
In a statement on Palestinian objectives, the Palestinian PM said that “no Palestinian leadership will ever accept a state without East Jerusalem as the capital – not now, not 100 years from now."
According to the European Parliament's VP, Fayyad mentioned the need for the EU to be “a player, not just a payer”, particularly in respect of the third party monitoring mechanism for Road Map performance, stating that after a year of monitoring, it was time to convert the mechanism from “one of accounting to one of accountability”.
With reference to refugees, Fayyad said that the EU should not be looking to change the terms of reference; UN resolutions and agreed commitments already provide the framework.
Finally, the Prime Minister said that an upgrade in the PA’s relations with the EU could not compensate for upgrading its relations with Israel at this time. As it is, the PA still has an interim association agreement that has not been recognized by Israel, Morgantini reported.
Noa Levanon contributed to this report