EU undermining Middle East peace
EU refusal to recognise Palestinian government is worsening poverty and suffering, says Lucas.
The EU’s refusal to pay direct aid to or fully recognise the National Unity Government in Palestine is exacerbating poverty and suffering in the occupied territories, and worsening the prospects for peace and democracy in the region, MEPs in Brussels have heard.
Speaking during a debate on the EU’s relations with the Arab world, Green MEP Caroline Lucas demanded EU leaders change their current position and resume full financial support for and direct discussions with the Palestinian Authority.
Dr Lucas, who has just returned from visiting Palestine as a member of the European Parliament’s official delegation to the Occupied Territories, said the EU’s current position was undermining opportunities for good relations with the Arab world, exacerbating poverty and suffering and destroying the hopes of the Palestinian people.
“The EU called for democracy in Palestine, and last year pronounced their election to be free and fair. EU leaders then decided they didn’t much like the result, and therefore, they asked the legitimately-elected Hamas government to forge a Government of National Unity instead,” she said.
“Hamas agreed to do so, and has met the international community’s further demands that it renounces violence, respects previous agreements, and recognises the state of Israel.
“The cross-party delegation met Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh last week – against the advice of the European Commission – and we are satisfied that the Palestinians have done everything the international community has asked of them.
“We must now resume full engagement with the Palestinian Authority, and all parties in the Government of National Unity, for the sake of both alleviating the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Palestine and promoting peace in the region.
“It’s incredible that the EU and the international community still refuse to do so.”
For more than a year the EU has refused to make financial payments directly to the Palestinian Authority, preferring to channel aid aimed at addressing the circumstances of the poorest through a Temporary International Mechanism (TIM). Whilst this has been able to alleviate some of the worst poverty in the region, it has a limited reach, undermines the democratic institutions of Palestine and, crucially, removes our ability to exercise leverage on the Israeli government to release illegally-held tax and customs revenues to the Palestinians.
Dr Lucas added: “If this government doesn’t survive, the alternative won’t be some other government with a slightly different political colour – it will be chaos and violence.
“There’s very real danger that in a few years time, we’ll look back at this moment and think – why on earth didn’t we support democracy in Palestine when we had the chance?”