In a recent statement issued by the EU-Israel Association Council, the European Union (EU) sharply criticized Israel for what it referred to as a wide range of human rights violations in the Jewish state and the "occupied Palestinian territory (OPT)."
Among other issues, the statement refers to Israel's obligation to protect the rights of the Arab-Palestinian minority, stressing the "importance to address it as a core problem in its own right," and to seek equitable and sustainable solutions with regards to the unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages in close consultation with the communities affected.
Additionally, the statement reiterates EU support for human rights defenders as a "long-established element of the European Union’s human rights external relations policy" and condemns the "excessive recourse by Israel to administrative detention."
The EU urged Israel "to refrain from actions which may…curtail the freedom of association and freedom of speech (of civil society)."
However, despite the recognition of these "violations" by the EU, the Association Council's statement also indicates that the EU will significantly enhance joint economic activities with Israel: Sixty concrete activities in over 15 specific fields.
Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel said the EU's statement "emphasizes the deterioration in the state of human rights in Israel and the OPT and clarifies that Israel's allies are aware of the destructive policy of the current government towards human rights.
"However, the inconsistency between the EU stand on Israel's policy towards human rights and its decision to strengthen economic ties may promote additional impunity. The principles of human rights, deep democracy, and international law should be the main principles in EU-Israel relations and must steer any enhancement of its trade relations with Israel,” the rights groups said in a joint statement.