Palestinian Human Rights Organizations call on Poland to uphold principles of international law in its joint cabinet session with Israel on 24 February 2011
JOINT OPEN LETTER TO THE POLISH GOVERNMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
23 February 2011
Dear Prime Minister,
In view of the upcoming joint Polish-Israeli cabinet session on 24 February, we, the undersigned organizations committed to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt), would like to express our concern over what we understand will be a meeting to discuss an upgrade in defence and economic co-operation between the two states.
EU member states along with others have condemned Israel’s policies and practices concerning the Palestinian population, which are in contravention of basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights law. Israel’s continuing expansion of settlements is, inter alia, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibition of the transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population to the territory it occupies; and its de facto annexation of East Jerusalem violates the international humanitarian law prohibition of the annexation of occupied territory. Israel also continues to build the Annexation Wall in the West Bank, in defiance of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, that recognized that portions of Wall built on occupied territory are illegal and called for their dismantlement. Furthermore, it refused to co-operate with or recognize the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which found that during Israel’s military operation on the civilian population in the Gaza Strip in 2008/09 war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed, and recommended that they be subjected to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
Poland, as the next EU member state to assume the Council Presidency in July 2011, will be in a stronger position to influence the EU foreign policy agenda concerning Israel and the oPt. The EU has stated that a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a ‘fundamental interest to the parties in the region and the EU’ and must be achieved on the basis of all previous UN resolutions and international agreements. It has also recognized the illegality of settlement building, house demolitions and the construction of the Wall and warned that these actions are major obstacles to a two state solution.
As Israel’s actions constitute serious violations of international law which carry obligations on the international community as a whole, Poland, having ratified the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter and international human rights treaties, has a responsibility in its relations with Israel to ensure that these violations end. Furthermore, as one of the 27 member states of the EU Council which has recognized the illegality of Israel’s policies and practices towards the Palestinians, and as the future holder of the EU Presidency, Poland is in a position when meeting with Israel to reiterate the EU’s position and its deep concern regarding these violations.
We call upon Poland to send a strong message to Israel, confirming that there will be no increased co-operation between the two states unless there is tangible progress in Israel’s adherence to international law, including:
• The dismantling of all settlements, including in East Jerusalem;
• An end to all forms of house demolitions and evictions;
• The lifting of the Gaza blockade and full unhindered access to humanitarian aid and assistance;
• Israel’s compliance with all UN Resolutions, the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, the recommendations of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict endorsed by the Human Rights Council, and concluding observations of international human rights treaty bodies relating to the human rights of Palestinians in the oPt.
Addameer Prisoner Support
and Human Rights Association
Defence for Children International
– Palestine Section
Khalil Abu Shammala
Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Maha Abu Dayieh
Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling
Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy