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Open letter for Palestine to EU political leaders

26. Oktober 2023

Open letter to EU institutions and EU Member States: Stop Israel’s war crimes and prioritise the Palestinian people’s fight against genocide and apartheid 



Dear EU political leaders,

We write to you as a collective of civil society organisations committed to the principles of peace, democracy, decolonisation, and anti-imperialism. We call for immediate and ethical action by the EU to prioritise the Palestinian people’s fight against genocide and to cooperate with Palestinians and international partners, including those from the Global South, to prepare the ground for lasting peace and human security for Palestinians and Israelis alike, in full recognition of long-standing Palestinian demands to reclaim indigenous life and land.

The latest cycle of violence in Israel/Palestine is a horrific but inevitable consequence of a long and entangled history of European totalitarianism, Israeli settler colonialism, British imperialism, US hegemony, and the intentional derailing of a just peace process enabled by the silence of the EU, the US and the UK. While we grieve every civilian life lost equally, Palestinians have been, and continue to be, the oppressed group under this apartheid structure of power. As outlined by Jewish Voice for Peace, ‘The root of violence is oppression.’[1]

Since 7 October, EU institutions and some national governments have expressed their solidarity with Israel (only) and its right to “defend itself” with impunity, even projecting Israeli flags on EU buildings. Such actions have systematically erased Palestinian people’s voices and rights and ignored a long history of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid that lie at the root of this cycle of violence

European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola visited Israel on 14 October 2023, once again expressing their unreserved solidarity with Israel on behalf of the European Union as Israel imposed a total blockade on the Gaza Strip, cutting off fuel, water, energy, and food supplies in violation of international human rights standards. On 17 October 2023, von der Leyen stated that “There is no contradiction in standing in solidarity with Israel and acting for the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians.”[2] This response can only be understood as full EU complicity in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians, including collective punishment and genocide. 

It exposes the EU’s double standards in its foreign policy as it fails to stand for the people of Gaza as it has done for Ukraine against Russian aggression and similar acts of terror. In the long term, this will only undermine the EU’s democracy and its international credibility. 

It has also legitimised state violence to repress those standing up for Palestinian rights, and encouraged a surge in Islamophobic, racist attacks and violence against Palestinian activists and allies, including Jewish activists against apartheid, in Europe, Jerusalem, the West Bank, Israel, and across the world. The EU’s belligerent rhetoric has contributed to a cultural climate leading to a rise in hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs, and Jews in Europe.

We condemn the dominant EU political response to the war crimes in the occupied territories and the genocide taking place in Gaza. We welcome the few political leaders that have opposed it.[3] We call on EU institutions and EU Member States to prioritise the Palestinian people’s fight against genocide and apartheid by: 

  1. Ceasefire: Calling for an immediate ceasefire;

  2. Humanitarian aid: Firmly pressuring Israel, the Occupying Power, to respect its obligations under international law and to lift the illegal siege on Gaza and restore access to water, electricity, and fuel; and immediately responding to the humanitarian needs and calls for aid by Palestinians, including ensuring the vital delivery of medicines and life-saving supplies to Gaza;

  3. Arms and technology trade embargo: Halting at once all military exports, technology transfers and assistance to the Israeli settler colonial ethnostate.

  4. Accountability: Holding Israel accountable for its violations of international law and collective punishment against civilians, including by publicly and unconditionally supporting the current investigation carried out by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court;

  5. Amplification of Palestinian voices: Organising a public hearing in the European Parliament with representatives from Palestinian human rights organisations in order to start discussions for a lasting and just peace;

  6. Protection of civic space: Protecting the civic space, including the right of peaceful assembly, expression and association of Palestinian civil society and activists both within Palestine and beyond. 

  7. Commitment to justice for the Palestinian people: Committing to an end to the occupation of Palestine, recognising the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and Respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

As long as Palestinians remain oppressed and their calls for decolonisation are sidelined, the cycle of violence is likely to continue, with disproportionate and deadly consequences for Palestinians. 

[1] Jewish Voice for Peace, Statement: The root of violence is oppression.
[2] https://x.com/vonderleyen/status/1714348558877352297?s=20  
[3] We are referring to stances taken in by the Irish government (see related article) and Podemos (see related article). [4] Demands 2 and 4 are taken over from the demands as expressed in this letter by Palestinian civil society organisations: https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/21904.html
[5] As outlined by Palestinian Civil Society in the Palestinian BDS National Committee