A delegation of three European Parliament members visiting the region said they were “outraged” at Israel’s activities in the West Bank and accused Israel of assuming that its close ties with the EU constituted tacit European support for its policies.
“As so often in the past we are disappointed, indeed outraged, to hear yet again of the injustices of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine — of confiscations and of demolitions, of settlement building and of the exclusion of Palestinians from so much of their own land, of humiliations and of killing, with the Israeli perpetrators facing nothing by way of punishment,” Chris Davies, a member of the European Parliament from Britain who headed the delegation, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The European Union criticizes Israel for all these things but we regret that the EU’s words are too rarely followed by action,” Davies, a member of the Liberal Democrats, continued. “On the contrary, relations between the EU and Israel remain very close and we fear that Israel will too often assume this amounts to tacit support for its behavior.”
Israel rejected the accusations, claiming that they stemmed from a one-sided view of the conflict.
“Mr. Davies’s stomach must hurt really bad, after he swallowed the entire Palestinian propaganda line, hook and sinker,” a senior Foreign Ministry official told the Times of Israel. “The claims in his statement are so remote from reality that they seem like a lopsided caricature in some EU bashing satire. This makes for an utterly irrelevant stance, so unfounded that it can’t even be lost in translation.”
Davies also lent his support to Palestinian plans to lobby the United Nations if the release of 29 Palestinian prisoners by Israel at the end of the week doesn’t go ahead.
Israel agreed to release a total of 104 long-term prisoners when talks kick-started by US Secretary of State John Kerry began in July. It has freed 78 so far, nearly all of them who had been imprisoned for over 20 years.
But Israeli ministers have warned that should the Palestinians not agree to extend talks beyond their April 29 deadline, they will not release the remaining detainees as scheduled on March 29.
“It would be judged an act of very bad faith if the Israeli government were not to honor its pledge,” Davies said. “Palestinians would be entirely within their rights were they then to choose to approach the many United Nations bodies with a view to obtaining membership, recognition and action.”
AFP contributed to this report.