A few links on the EU and Israel/Palestine

Some interesting recent developments in the Israel/Palestine issue, notably in terms of EU-Israel relations. The letter cited at the end from European heavyweights who were formerly deeply involved in EU policymaking is quite important.

EU stops short of outright recognition of Palestinian state - but final statement is weak and limp, as usual (I guess the usual suspects — UK, Netherlands, France, Germany and some of the newer Eastern states — provided protection for Israel.)

Hamas reiterates 'all of Palestine' claim - Mixed messages from Hamas, as always.

US envoy returns to grasp nettle of Mideast peace - Mitchell resurfaces.

Palestinians express doubts over 2-state future - No kidding.

Letter from European Former Leaders Group (EFLG) [PDF]

Update: I should have also mentioned this great letter from The Elders.

Excerpt from the above letter:

It is now one year on and we appear to be no closer to a resolution of this conflict. To the contrary, developments on the ground, primarily Israel’s continuation of settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) including in East Jerusalem, pose an existential threat to the prospects of establishing a sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestinian state also embracing Gaza, and therefore pose a commensurate threat to a two-state solution to the conflict.

Given this situation and the urgent need for action, we consider it a matter of fundamental credibility that the Council revisit the principles and requirements it enunciated in December 2009 and establish the next steps forward at its meeting scheduled for 13 December 2010. In addition to reconfirming the framework and principles it collectively adopted in December 2009, we consider it vital that the Council should also identify concrete measures to operationalize its agreed policy and thence move to implementation of the agreed objectives. Europe cannot afford that the application of these policy principles be neglected and delayed yet again. Time to secure a sustainable peace is fast running out.

[. . .]

During the past twelve months, the EU has continued to develop its bilateral relations with Israel within the framework of the ENP, with additional support provided in other fora, such as Israel’s accession to the OECD. Yet Israel has continued with settlement construction in the OPT, including East Jerusalem, and refused to negotiate seriously on terminating occupation and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.

The EU has always maintained that settlements are illegal, but has not attached any consequences for continued and systematic Israeli settlement expansion in the OPT, including East Jerusalem.

We therefore strongly believe that the EU must make absolutely clear that enhancement or upgrading of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and other bilateral agreements and programs will not occur unless settlements are frozen.

We furthermore recommend in the strongest possible terms that the EU examine the legal implications for the EU of the continued application of bilateral agreements by Israel to Israelis and Israeli entities in the OPT, i.e. to areas outside the internationally recognized boundaries of the State of Israel. We consider it necessary that the EU add safeguard clauses to these agreements which rule out their application to Occupied Territories, to ensure that entities prohibited by international law and considered unlawful by EU policy, such as settlements, are excluded from European privileges and will not be promoted and legitimized by their provision. We consider it necessary that the EU bring an end to the import of settlement products which are, in contradiction with EU labeling regulations, marketed as originating in Israel. We consider it simply inexplicable that such products still enjoy benefits under preferential trade agreements between the EU and Israel.

Hopefully next year will see the development of a stronger BDS movement in Europe after 2009's progress, and EU leaders bringing an end to Israel's Advanced Status negotiations with the EU, which are an outrage.