Sunday

22nd Sep 2019

Palestine says EP chief endorsed Israeli 'apartheid'

  • Erekat wrote to Schulz because 'the issue is very grave' (Photo: US-Islamic World Forum)

Saeb Erekat, a leading Palestinian diplomat, has accused Martin Schulz, the European Parliament (EP) president, of endorsing Israel’s “apartheid” regime in the West Bank.

Erekat, Palestine’s chief negotiator in Arab-Israeli peace talks for the past 20 years, made the comments in a letter to Schulz on 15 January, seen by EUobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He wrote after Schulz, a German socialist, earlier the same day in Berlin, met with Yuli Edelstein, the Israeli parliament speaker.

Schulz told Edelstein, who is himself a settler, that an EU code, published last year, on labelling of exports from settler farms and factories will "harm Palestinian workers who make a decent wage there".

Schulz also noted that Sweden, one of Israel’s fiercest EU critics, had “bad relations” with Israel, “unlike Germany.”

Erekat’s letter said: “By adopting the Israeli narrative, your statement is tantamount to supporting the Israeli settlement enterprise, a war crime under international law.

“You have contributed to Israel’s culture of impunity.”

Erekat added: “We are surprised that, as president of the European Parliament, you seem not to be aware of the cost of the Israeli occupation for Palestine. Every year we lose at least $8 billion.”

He said settler exports are made “on stolen land with stolen natural resources” and that Palestinians are “forced to buy our own water from an Israeli company. This is a reality of Apartheid.”

Armin Machmer, Schulz’ spokesman, told EUobserver on Monday (25 January) that Schulz will reply to Erekat in due course.

He noted that Schulz, at the Berlin meeting, first outlined the EP’s official position, which supports the EU labelling code. He said Schulz’ other remarks were made “in a purely personal, private capacity”.

Erekat’s reference to water comes after Schulz prompted Israeli outrage in a 2014 speech in the Israeli parliament by asking how it was that Palestinians in the West Bank got so little water compared to the settlers.

'Very grave issue'

Israel, for its part, doesn’t agree with the UN or the EU that its presence in Palestine constitutes "occupation". It says the land is “terra nullius” - no man’s land - under law because Palestine was never a state.

It also says EU pressure on settlement expansion doesn’t help because it emboldens Palestinian hardliners.

A Palestinian contact told this website that Erekat, who will also chair future peace talks if they resume, wouldn’t normally write to the EP.

“But the issue is very grave from our perspective,” he said.

The number of Israeli settlers, already more than half a million people, is growing by 16,000 a year, putting in doubt the viability of a future Palestinian state.

Israeli authorities last week also said they would take ownership of hundreds of hectares of land near the Palestinian city of Jericho, prompting even friends of Israel including Germany to complain.

The German government said it was “dismayed” by the decision, which it described as “the largest such move in 18 months”.

It comes despite the fact that EU foreign ministers, also last week, threatened to take “further action” against settlement expansion.

Among other provisions, they promised “to ensure that ... all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967”.

Israeli media savage Swedish minister

Israeli media have highlighted fraud allegations against Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallstroem, amid outrage over her criticism of Israeli killing of Palestinians.

Israeli bulldozers demolish EU-funded buildings

Israeli bulldozers have demolished more than 20 buildings in Palestinian villages in the West Bank, including EU-funded structures, amid mounting European frustration.

Opinion

Old friends? Palestine, Cyprus, and Greece

Built on common experience and principles, Palestine’s friendship with Cyprus and Greece goes back a long way. Short-term economic gains should not be allowed to harm this.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us