On Monday, 3 October, the EU-“Israel” Association Council convened in Brussels, Belgium, after a gap of 10 years. While the meeting was originally touted as including the participation of Zionist prime minister Yair Lapid — responsible just two months ago for the bombing of Gaza that took the lives of 49 Palestinians, including 17 children — Lapid did not attend the meeting in person, sending Intelligence Minister Elizar Stern and appearing instead over video link. The resumption of the EU-“Israel” Association Council, with the participation of 27 European foreign ministers alongside the occupation officials and EU foreign affairs head Josep Borrell, confirms once again that the European Union serves as a full partner in the Zionist crimes against the Palestinian people.
The resumption of this meeting clearly seems to signify that EU officials aim to bolster Lapid in the upcoming occupation elections. While the EU has paid lip service on various occasions to concern for Palestinian rights, the massive expansion of illegal colonial settlements, the ongoing imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and the extrajudicial assassination and killing of Palestinians, its own memo for the meeting instead prioritizes pressuring Arab regimes to normalize with the occupation, opposes the boycott of Israel and touts “counterterrorism cooperation” — that is, the securitized targeting of Palestinians and Arabs in Europe and in occupied Palestine.
The resumption of the EU-Israel Association Council is particularly egregious, coming as it does while 30 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike to end the system of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. These 30 prisoners — including French-Palestinian citizen, lawyer Salah Hamouri — are putting their health and lives on the line to demand an end to this injustice. There are currently approximately 743 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention among over 4,600 Palestinian political prisoners in total.
On various occasions, EU representatives have criticized administrative detention. It is clear that Israel’s use of administrative detention is used as a routine practice to repress, silence and isolate Palestinian community leaders and organizers, in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. Nonetheless, the EU-Israel Association Council proceeded forward, with condemnations of the boycott movement and praise for “counterterror” cooperation, highlighting the EU as a partner in the imprisonment and repression of Palestinians.
Of course, this comes in addition to the Israeli attack on Palestinian human rights and popular organizations, ostensibly condemned by the EU and initiated by Lapid’s government, yet which was not seen as any kind of barrier to resuming the meetings of this Council after 10 years. Not to mention the siege on Gaza for the past 16 years, the August assault on Gaza, the ongoing extrajudicial killings and assassinations, including of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, the forced expulsion of thousands of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta, the attacks on holy sites in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine, the settlement construction and forced displacement in the Naqab, and the denial of Palestinian refugees’ right to return for the past 74 years. By launching and reinstituting the Association Council, the EU makes clear that it is fully lined up as a colonial ally of the occupation regime in Palestine.
Of course, this is not a single meeting; the EU-Israel Association Agreement itself provides the occupation with access to free-trade preferences for European markets, access to EU funding and joint research and development programs. Essentially, this agreement ties the European Union to all of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, not only as an ongoing legacy of colonialism but through active and ongoing alliance.
Today in Gaza, the National and Islamic Forces convened a press conference and delivered a letter of protest to the EU representative in Gaza. They affirmed: “We consider the statements of war criminal Lapid in his speech at the United Nations and his reference to the ‘two state solution’ came to facilitate precisely this event, because the Zionist entity wants to achieve economic gains and considers the European Union its first economic partner. The so-called ‘two-state solution’ is just a deceitful liquidationist slogan employed to achieve gains for Zionism and to provide excuses and justifications for the ‘friends of Israel’ in Europe to circumvent reality and European and international law.”
This meeting also comes amid plans between the European Union and the Zionist project to extract the wealth and resources of the Palestinian and Lebanese people in gas deals to Europe as the EU faces energy shortages due to the sanctions it imposed on Russia. The occupation regime is already planning to extract gas from the besieged Gaza Sea, while attempting to threaten Lebanon with the extraction of its resources. The Palestinian and Lebanese resistance have been very clear in rejecting the attempts of the occupier to steal their wealth and resources,. Rather than respecting Palestinian and Lebanese sovereignty, just as in Syria and Yemen, the EU is instead interested in extracting these resources in partnership with the colonial occupier and in bolstering a warm relationship facilitated by this trade.
In the leadup to the meeting, 47 Members of European Parliament signed a statement demanding the cancellation of the Council meeting, while a demonstration was organized outside the European Commission in Brussels. It is clear from the massive demonstrations that spread throughout Europe in 2021 during the Unity Intifada/Battle of Seif al-Quds and in 2022 during the attacks on Gaza/Battle of the Unity of the Fields that the popular movements, Arab and Palestinian communities and broad sectors of the population of Europe stand with Palestine and reject Zionism and racism. Meanwhile, European states — including Berlin banning Nakba commemorations in May 2022, German immigration officials targeting Palestinians for repression and deportation and France’s attempt to ban the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and other pro-Palestine associations — continue to engage in repressive actions in an attempt to deter this growing movement for the boycott and isolation of the Israeli regime and the liberation of Palestine, including all Palestinian prisoners. This comes in addition to the imprisonment of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese Arab struggler for Palestine, in France for the past 38 years.
On October 29, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network will join with our comrades in the Masar Badil (Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement), CAPJPO-EuroPalestine, Collectif Palestine Vaincra, Plate-Forme Charleroi-Palestine, Classe Contre Classe, Secours Rouge and many more to march from Lumumba Square to the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. The March for Return and Liberation will begin at 2 pm, calling for the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea, and including demands to end the EU-Israel Association Agreement and kick the occupation regime out of EU bodies and agreements. This march is the culmination of the Week for Palestinian Liberation in Brussels, from 24-29 October. Join us!