December 04, 2008

EU puts Israel's upgrade on the back burner - was it something I said?

I emailed all my Members of the European Parliament yesterday asking them to vote against enhancing Israel's association with the European Union. I don't know how much impact these things have but I'm glad I did it. As it happens I've just read that the EU parliament has postponed the decision and it's all down to Israel's actions in the occupied territories. Here's Deutsche Welle (it means German Waves apparently):
"For us, the extension of settlers and colonists on the West Bank is not acceptable and does not set the tone for negotiations to take place," said Veronique De Keyser, a European parliamentarian from Belgium.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad argued that the continued presence of Jewish settlers in the occupied territories was reason for the EU not to upgrade its relation with Israel.

Palestinian warns against upgrading relations with Israel

"Israel has violated all its commitments, including on human rights issues. EU countries should wait before upgrading the level of Israeli representation with the EU," he said to reporters on Monday after meeting with EU diplomats on the West Bank.

Fayyad said the EU would send the wrong signal to Israeli voters ahead of February 10 legislative elections if it agrees to boost ties.

"The message would be clear. By tightening links with Israel, the EU indicates that Israel gets what it wants without any considering its commitments towards the international community within the framework of the (Annapolis) peace process," he said.

The Palestinian leader had reportedly told EU diplomats that "the misery index in Gaza has never been higher" due largely to Israel actions to almost completely seal off the Palestinian territory over the last three weeks.

It would be wonderful to believe that the Palestinian "PM" swung it for his people. Even better than the possibility that it was my email to my many and politically varied MEPs that swung it against Israel.

Here's my email:
Dear [name of MEP],

I hope that by now you will have received many emails calling on you to vote against the EU-Israel Association Agreement tomorrow.

Israel is in breach of several UN Security Council resolutions, many of which call on Israel to abide by the provisions of the 4th Geneva Conventions. This is in addition to the fact that Israel exists on the unique basis of inviting people from all around the world to live there whilst denying that basic human right to the majority of the native non-Jewish population.

Israel should be the subject of sanctions, not rewards.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Elf
I sent that all nine London MEPs.

Well I wasn't expecting any replies so I was surprised to get this email from the Tory MEP, Charles Tannick's assistant:
Dear Mr Elf,


Dr Tannock is very familiar with the situation in Israel and the occupied territories, and the suffering of many innocent Palestinians caught up in the terrorist actions of Hamas and Israeli counter attacks [ahem?] and his party is committed to a peace based on the Oslo Peace accords, the road map for peace and Quartet criteria with a viable two state solution based on roughly the 1967 borders with land for peace swaps.

Therefore Conservatives oppose any new settlement building in the occupied territories. Nevertheless he supports an enhanced agreement between the EU and Israel as Israel as a country shares many of our common western democratic values including free elections [except when the Palestinians elect Hamas], a free press [except when they forbid journalists from entering Gaza], and independence of its judiciary and upholding the rule of law and is at the front line in fighting the existential threat of Islamist terrorism [killing lots of civilians while very few Israelis have been killed by home made rocket fire].

He also believes the security fence for all its problems has considerably reduced the ability of suicide bombers to cross over and kill innocent Israeli civilians who are still subject to Hamas rockets launched from Gaza [Israel broke the truce and far more Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israel]. He will of course work for reconciliation and a lasting peace in the region as will all Conservative MEPs [I don't think so].

Kind Regards
Well you can't disappoint a pessimist so I wasn't disappointed but boy was I surprised at the second email I received, look:
Dear Mark Elf

Thank you very much for writing to me about Palestine and Israeli actions there. I very much agree with many of the points you make.

You may perhaps not know I am a member of the European Parliament’s Palestine Delegation. I was there a few months ago and saw for myself the cruelty of the wall and the impact of the financial and trade freeze on that country.

I was also in Gaza the day Israel resumed its indiscriminate bombardment there and I had earlier visited the main hospital with the WHO representative and seen the appalling wounds of men, women and children, including the evidence that experimental weapons had been used against them. The actions of the Israeli government are wholly disproportionate, as they were when they conducted brutal assaults on civilian targets in Lebanon and in the whole ethos of the wall and the ghettoisation policy throughout Palestine .

I can assure you that I and others keep these issues firmly on the agenda of the European Parliament.

With best wishes
John Bowis MEP
Now check out his site. Another Tory.

I suppose he's not the only Tory to be to the left of a lot of New Labourites on certain issues. I've checked his name on Wikepedia but no mention of his support for the Palestinians. It's certainly a quandary for zionists, denounce him as antisemitic and publicise him or ignore him in the hope that others do the same thing?

Anyway, back to the news. Israel's enhanced association with the EU is on the back burner for now and it could well be thanks to the likes of John Bowis MEP and maybe even to letter writers like, erm, me.

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