Pax Christi and Jerusalem
To Members of Parliament and Ministers of Foreign Affairs within the
European Union
October 13, 2000



We, development agencies, solidarity groups and human rights organisations,
appeal in this letter to the European Union to play a stronger political
role in the Oslo process. In our opinion, the EU' s political efforts should
be directed towards the enforcement of international rights, the promotion
of a viable Palestinian state and Jerusalem as the capital of two states.
We hope, bearing in mind the preparations for the forthcoming top conference
in Marseille (the 14th of November), that you will make a stronger effort to
ensure a more prominent role of the EU. We would appreciate it if you would
appeal to the EU to play a more powerful part in the peace process, also
bearing in mind the meeting of the General Council on the 9th and 10th of
October.
 

The pressure that has arisen in the negotiation process with regard to time
is, to our mind, a matter of concern. The weakened position of Prime
Minister Barak and President Clinton's threat to move the American Embassy
to Jerusalem contrary to Security Council resolutions, makes the arrival at
an agreement that does justice to the legitimate Palestinian and Israeli
wishes, improbable.
 

In the report recently published by, amongst others, Pax Christi  and
Cordaid, Towards a stronger role of the EU in the Middle East Peace Process
(see supplement), there is once again a reference to the Israeli government's
unilateral demographic and geographical alteration in the status quo in
and around Jerusalem, which is in breach of international legislation. This
includes the establishment of settlements in Israeli occupied territory and
the refusal of residence permits to Palestinians temporarily living outside
Jerusalem as a result of failure to obtain building permits. Our report
states that as a result of this political 'fait accompli' stance, a new
political reality in and around Jerusalem has been created, which is having
an immense impact on the negotiation process.
 

The European Union has failed to condemn this policy by taking strong
measures and is therefore supporting a policy that is contrary to
international legislation. A situation has been established in which the
negotiation process is being dominated not by international legislation but
by the unequal balance of power between Israel and Palestine. It is
questionable whether the outcome of this process will offer any guarantee of
a durable and just peace.
 

A durable and just peace is being further hindered by a continuous erosion
of the political credibility of the Palestinian leadership, which is guilty
of violation of human rights. In our opinion, these violations also call for
strong condemnation.

We feel that it is of utmost importance that the Dutch government and the EU
uphold the principles that should form the basis for a more prominent
political role of the EU. These legislative principles are:
 

·          The right for Palestinian refugees to return - this implies no
obligation to return - as set out in the UN resolution 194;

The recognition of the Palestinian people's right to autonomy and Israel's
right to secure and recognised borders;
The right to the safeguarding from annexation of occupied territory and from
enforced changes to the demographic structure, including to East-Jerusalem,
as set out in the fourth Geneva Convention;
The principle, as set out in the UN resolutions 242 and 338 and ratified by
Israel and the PLO in the Oslo agreements, in which Israel is called upon to
withdraw from the territories occupied since 1967;
The respect for human rights by all parties, implying that the civil and
political rights as well as the economic, social and cultural rights of the
entire population be guaranteed. This includes the right to unrestricted
movement of goods and people, the right to health care and work and the
right to a free choice of religion.

The government should re-establish these legal principles as the basis for a
durable and just peace and propose the same  for them in their contact with
the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and within the European Union.
 

The acceptance of these principles implicitly assumes an obligation on the
part of the Dutch government to strive for efforts in this area. We would
like to further specify these efforts and make four concrete
recommendations:
 

·         We ask our government to request re-establishment of the
diplomatic protocol within the EU. This would involve paying a visit to the
Orient House in East-Jerusalem when visiting the region, thereby expressing
the importance of international legislation.

·         We ask our government to request a monitoring mechanism to ensure
the observance of human rights that, by use of fact-finding on an annual
basis, monitors the observance of article 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean
Association agreements.

·         We also ask our government to put the observance of the
territorialism clause 83 of the Association Agreement between the EU and
Israel on the agenda of the Association Council, and to enforce this
observance if necessary by a temporary suspension of trade privileges now
that it has become apparent that, contrary to the agreement, Israel is
benefiting from the privileges of products originating from the occupied
territory. The acceptance of this practice forms a dangerous precedent as
the claim of the Israeli government, i.e. as if that products originated
from Israeli territory, is also silently accepted.

·         Finally, we call on the member states of the EU to have the
General Meeting of the UN ask the advice of the International Law Court in
The Hague as soon as possible, about the explanation and application of UN
resolutions with regard to the division of the Palestinian mandate area
between Israel and Palestine.

The declaration of a State of Palestine should include it being viable,
stated the EU in its Berlin Declaration (the 24th -25th March 1999). The
term viable is to our mind insufficiently defined. We are of the opinion
that a viable state should meet the following criteria:

q       A State of Palestine should be an expression of the aforementioned
international legislative principles, particularly the right to autonomy and
the right of return for refugees;

q       The territorial integrity and total sovereignty must be assured;

q       The State should have legitimate leadership that respects human
rights;

q       The State should have sufficient land for its population and should
have access to water and other natural resources;

q       Furthermore, the State of Palestine must be given unimpeded access
to international markets;

q       Palestinians must have freedom of movement in their country
including East-Jerusalem.
 
 

We consider it important that the government clarifies exactly what can be
understood by the term viable state, considering that this viability is a
conditio sine qua non for long-lasting peace.

For this reason the government should clarify exactly what it means by a
viable state. They should introduce this perception in the preparatory
discussions for the inter-ministerial conference of EU ministers in
Marseille, planned for the 14th of November 2000, in order that the EU as a
community should also speak out about this question.
 

In our opinion, the government should be critical of a situation in which
the State of Palestine is declared, despite the inability to guarantee the
viability of such a State. We would like them to consider whether in this
eventuality a temporary or conditional recognition of the State would be a
possibility. The preconditions in such a situation could cohere with the
requirements for a viable State as laid out previously.
 

We would also like to make a few concrete recommendations with regard to the
State of Palestine:
 

·         We would like the government's opinion on the initiative to make
any final agreement between Israel and the PLO dependent on a Palestinian
referendum. If the government is in favour of this, will this proposition be
introduced in Marseille?

·         We also request that the government as a member state of the EU
introduce initiatives aimed at the good rule of the Palestinian Authority.
We specifically have in mind support in the development of the Palestinian
constitution and strengthening of the role and position of the Palestinian
Legislative Council (PLC) by way of visits to the PLC and by granting the
PLC a vote in the case of allocation of EU funds.

·         We also request the government to contribute to the viability of
the State of Palestine by means of financial support of initiatives for
economic development and democratisation.

·         Finally, we would request the government to facilitate the
implementation of the Association Agreement between the EU and the PLO by
ensuring unimpeded easy access of Palestinian export products to the
European market. To achieve this, political pressure on the Israeli
authorities is imperative.
 

We would finally like to make a few comments regarding the status of
Jerusalem. We think that Jerusalem could become a capital city of two
states. A city where people of various political and religious beliefs are
free to travel and take up residence, where Palestinian home rule is
established and from where an unimpeded movement of people, goods and
capital with the West Bank and Gaza is possible. We fully understand that
the negotiations regarding the status of Jerusalem are part of an extremely
delicate process and that the outcome, particularly for the parties directly
involved, must be determined within the framework of international
legislation. Yet we remain convinced that our government and the EU have a
role to play. We venture a few suggestions:

·         The EU must in no way recognise the changed circumstances in and
around Jerusalem, which are contrary to international legislation. That
implies, amongst other matters, cancellation of annexation politics, protest
against the intended move of the American embassy to West Jerusalem and the
paying of visits to East Jerusalem, even if the Israeli authorities apply
pressure to prevent any such visits.

·         We would ask you to consider in which ways the government and the
EU could contribute to the development of an infrastructure that would link
East Jerusalem with the surrounding Palestinian land.

 With kind regards, we remain yours faithfully