The Economic Role of the EU in Israel and Palestine
The EU plays a significant economic role in bothIsraelandPalestine. QCEA are currently working for an import ban on EU trade with Israeli settlements as we are aware that settlement produce is routinely mislabelled to gain access to the EU market at preferential tax rates reserved for Israeli goods within the 1967 borders. QCEA undertook a survey of Israeli and Palestinian products in supermarkets acrossEurope, contacted customs authorities and supermarkets, and produced a briefing paper which was sent to EU decision-makers. We continue to carry out advocacy with other NGOs inBrusselson this issue.
We have been researching the effect of Rami Levi in theWest Bank, an Israeli discount supermarket chain which has opened up branches outside settlements to draw business from both settlers and Palestinians. With the help of someUSfilmmakers we are working on a short film about this issue which will be published soon on our blog with an analysis.
The Arms Trade and Security Cooperation between EU Member States and Israel
QCEA monitor the export of arms by EU Member States toIsraelas well as the import of “battle-trained” arms, security hardware and training/expertise to EU states fromIsrael. We produced a briefing paper on the arms trade between EU Member States and Israel.
Israel participates in EU security and research programmes as an Associated Country. We monitor the inclusion of Israeli companies based in the settlements or accused of violating human rights and lobby to have them excluded. We have looked at the European Security Research Programme, the 6th Research Framework, 7th Research Framework, and are now carrying out work on Horizon 2020, the European research programme for 2014- 2020.
The Crisis Management Missions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Under the Common Security and Defence Policy the EU established two crisis management missions in the OPT in 2005. These were the EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) at Rafah and the EU Police Coordinating Palestinian Police Support mission (EUPOL COPPS) in theWest Bank. QCEA looked at both of these missions and published a briefing paper which assesses their effectiveness and value for money.
The EUBAM mission has been closed since 2007 but the EU retains a staff on the ground and the mission’s cost to date is €21.6 million. QCEA have recommended that the mission be closed and have been working with an MEP inBrusselsto get the EU to reassess the situation.
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
The call for BDS is controversial and raises strong views and emotions among those who support it and those who oppose it. Some of this is outlined in our Discussion Paper on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
In April 2011, Quakers in Britain agreed to boycott products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank. For further details, see the following Quakers in Britain to boycott products from Israeli settlements.
QCEA joined with 5 other NGOs and NGO networks to voice our grave concern about the ‘Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott – 2011’ which was adopted in the Knesset on 15 July 2011.
NGO Freedom and Democratic Space in Israel
This strand of work looks at democratic space inIsrael, which includes NGO freedom and minority rights. Much legislation has recently passed in the Knesset limiting freedom of speech, restricting the activities of Israeli peace and human rights NGOs and discriminating against the Arab minority population of Israel. QCEA is monitoring developments and lobbying the EU to exert pressure onIsraelto respect minority rights and democratic space.
The Political Role of the EU in Israel and Palestine
The EU is a key player in the Middle East as a member of the Quartet, as a major donor to the Palestinian Authority, as a key trading partner of Israel, and as a powerful actor globally, its position on the key issues in the Middle East Peace Process is an important part of the diplomatic context.
QCEA has examined the EU’s political position on five key questions: Borders, Settlements, Jerusalem, Security and Refugees along with the position taken by the parties and other international actors.
Environmental Issues in Israel and Palestine
We examined the environmental costs of the occupation in a blog on our website, focussing on five issues; energy and water, fisheries, quarrying, olive tree destruction and pollution and toxic waste. QCEA carried out advocacy around a recent ruling by the Supreme Court which said that Israeli companies could profit fromWest Bankresources. This contravenes international law and we asked Friends across Europe to write to their representatives to alert them to this issue. As a result, numerous parliamentary questions have been put forward to the EU about this matter and we are waiting for a formal response.
Dutch Advocacy Work
EU foreign policy is decided by all Member States by consensus, which enables one state to become a “blocker.” As the Dutch Government is blocking a strong EU position on the Middle East Peace Process and intensifying bilateral relations withIsrael, QCEA found in early 2012 that it was necessary to carry out targeted national advocacy.
QCEA has issued two Dutch action alerts asking Friends to write to the Dutch Government. We have spoken to MPs and met with the director of The Rights Forum, a Dutch NGO created by former Prime Minister Dries van Agt to work on Dutch-Israeli relations. We prepared an open letter around to send to the Government regarding the proposed formal upgrade of relations through the Dutch-Israeli Cooperation Council in June 2012, which has subsequently been postponed until after the elections in September. QCEA are working closely with Netherlands Yearly Meeting and VVQREA in our work in the Netherlands.
Co-operation with Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs
As part of our wider advocacy, we seek to make links where possible with NGOs trying to build a consensus towards a peaceful solution to the conflict. Within this area, we monitor how QCEA and Quakers more broadly can engage with and support their work.
In February 2012, on the basis of cooperation between QCEA, the EAPPI Programme of the World Council of Churches and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories (UN OHCHR OPT), we released a press release with clear recommendations to the European Union Foreign Affairs Council (FAC).