HRA Director Participates in EU Advocacy Tour Launching A Human Rights Review on the EU and Israel
December 14, 2004
From December 6 – 9, 2004, the HRA Director Muhammad Zeidan traveled to Brussels to participate in the official launch of A Human Rights Review on the EU and Israel: Relating Commitments to Actions, 2003-2004, published by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN).
The EMHRN is a network of 80 Arab, European, Israeli and Turkish human rights organisations, institutions, and individuals committed to universal human rights and based in more than 20 countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region. The Network further established Working Groups on several human rights issues relevant to the Barcelona Process and the region, one of these being the Working Group on Palestine, of which the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) is a member. In February 2004, the EMHRN Working Group on Palestine decided to engage in a project that would review the European Union’s (EU) human rights obligations and commitments in relation to Israel as a further development of EMHRN work to promote the implementation of human rights commitments in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and in bi-lateral association agreements. The project was steered by al-Haq, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), B’Tselem, and the International Commission of Jurists.
The Review concluded that “Israel violates the human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and discriminates against the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel. The European Union in its relations with Israel facilitates these continued violations and thereby disrespects its own human rights obligations and commitments”.1
With regard to the Arab citizens of Israel, the Review calls on the EU to “ask Israel to ensure the full enjoyment by the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel of their human rights. The EU should also take effective steps to prevent their exclusion from equitable participation in the benefits of the EU-Israel cooperation”.2
The advocacy campaign organised to promote the Review in Brussels last week was very successful. The EMHRN team, including Muhammad Zeidan, met with government representatives to the Council of the EU from France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK, with Members of the European Parliament, including the chairwomen of the Sub-Committee for Human Rights and the Delegation to Israel, and with members of the European Commission, including officers of relevant RELEX (external relations) departments. Moreover, the group held a press conference for the Brussels-based international media and exchanged ideas with representatives of international NGOs such as Amnesty International, ECCP (European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on the Question of Palestine), FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), and Human Rights Watch.
One of the main aims of the Review is to encourage the establishment of a EU-Israel Sub- Committee on Human Rights that shall strengthen implementation of human rights norms enshrined in the Barcelona Declaration and the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
1 EMHRN Press Release, “EU-Israel: The EU violates its own Human Rights Commitments”, December 9, 2004, http://www.euromedrights.net/nyheder/news.html .