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NPK-info 25-04-2001- Nederlands Palestina Komitee / www.xs4all.nl/~npk
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Het NPK en de Palestijnse Vereniging spreken woensdag om 17 uur met de
Kamer-commissie voor Buitenlandse Zaken en zullen o.a. pleiten voor
gerechtigheid [conform de relevante VN-resoluties] waarbij harde druk op
Israel nodig is; ook de Palestijnen willen hun "5 mei" net als wij. Het NPK
zal tevens in en rondom twee bijeenkomsten verzamelde handtekeningen aan de
commissievoorzitter overhandigen.

Het Midden-Oosten-overleg in de Kamercommissie voor Buitenlandse Zaken met
minister Van Aartsen op donderdag 26 april vanaf 12.30 uur is voor publiek
toegankelijk.

Louis Michel, minister van Buitenlandse Zaken van BelgiŽ, bezocht met een
delegatie van Belgische parlementariers de Gazastrook zo toonde het Vlaamse
journaal dinsdag. De delegatie zag de door Israel aangerichte verwoestingen
in vluchtelingenkampen [Jabalia en Khan Younis] en noemde de situatie in de
Gazastrook mensonwaardig. Michel was zwaar aangeslagen en sprak de
kampbewoners moed in, nu de bijpassende daden.

Berichten
* The EU bans trading with 'illegal' Jewish settlements, but accepts their
goods under Israeli guise, Brian Whitaker
* Open Letter to the European Union Member States
* Al Haq Urgent Action Alert, 24 April 2001, Israeli Human Rights Violations
Increase: Killing, Shelling, Arrests, and Closures Continue

NPK/WL, 25-4-2001
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Europe colludes in Israeli trade scams

The EU bans trading with 'illegal' Jewish settlements, but accepts their
goods under Israeli guise, says Brian Whitaker

http://guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,477171,00.html

Monday April 23, 2001

Last Wednesday, a fax arrived at the Guardian - and no doubt, other
British newspapers - from the foreign office. It was deemed so important
that an official even phoned to check we had received it.
The fax was a statement from the foreign secretary, Robin Cook. "I have
today spoken to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to urge both sides to do
all they can to avoid confrontation," it began.

You can guess the rest: "negotiations... restraint... an end to
violence... return to peace talks... restraint... negotiating table...
restraint... peace talks" and so on. All very reasonable and British, but
hopelessly ineffectual.

On the same day, the European Union joined in the chorus. Everyone agreed
with the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, who in a rare outburst the
previous day had condemned Israeli action against the Palestinians as
"excessive and disproportionate".

The only difference between the Americans and the Europeans was that it
took the Europeans an extra day to get around to saying it.

This helps to explain why the US has dominated the Middle East peace
process for so long (with disastrous effects), while Europe, which might
play an important and useful role, has been left dithering on the
sidelines.

Europe, unlike the US, does not have a single foreign policy but its 15
member states try establish common ground where they can. That leads to
the sort of vacuous statements issued by Britain and the rest of Europe
last week, without any serious prospect of action to back them up.

In the recent UN security council vote on sending an international
observer "force" (terrifyingly armed with notebooks and pencils) to the
Middle East, the four European members - Britain, France, Ireland and
Norway - abstained. Although the US vetoed the plan anyway, Europe's
abstention, in the view of many people, encouraged the Israeli prime
minister, Ariel Sharon, to believe he could escalate the violence with
impunity.

Surprising as it may seem, Europe has as much economic muscle in the
region as the United States. European money keeps the Palestinian
Authority alive and Europe is Israel's most valuable trading partner.
Israel earns around $14bn (9.7bn) a year from Europe - one-third of its
total exports. Europe could use this influence towards achieving a just
peace - if only the member countries agreed on a course of action.

Last week, France hinted at economic measures to show European disapproval
of Israel's policies and EU foreign ministers may discuss it further when
they meet in Brussels on May 14.

One option would be to cancel or suspend the trade agreement which, since
1975, has allowed Israeli goods to enter Europe on preferential terms. Any
decision to do that would have to be unanimous and, on past form, there is
no chance of it happening.

There is, however, an interesting alternative which does not require a
political decision, merely an administrative decision of the kind that no
reasonable person can disagree with: to clamp down on fraud.

One of the great unpublicised scandals of the EU is that Israel has been
cheating on the trade agreement for years and depriving the EU of revenue
in the process. It is known, for example, that Israel has imported
Brazilian orange juice, labelled it as Israeli and sent it on to Europe -
thus allowing the Brazilians to evade European taxes.

The preferential terms under the agreement apply to goods produced wholly
or substantially in "the territory of the state of Israel". Europe has a
similar agreement with the Palestinians, but by controlling exports from
the occupied territories, the Israelis bar the Palestinians from making
use of it.

Jars of Palestinian pickle, for instance, are handed over to the Israelis
who stick a "Made in Israel" label on them and export them to Europe.
Flowers grown by Palestinians in Gaza, strawberries, oranges, lemons and
aubergines are all sent to Israel, mixed with Israeli produce and exported
to Europe with Israeli certificates of origin.

In 1998 a Palestinian grower told the European commission that he allowed
his flowers to change their nationality in order to avoid the risk of
damage and delay "as a result of Israeli treatment of Palestinian
produce". This was a polite way of referring to the Israeli authorities'
practice of thrusting metal spikes through boxes of Palestinian flowers,
rendering them unsaleable. Ostensibly this is done for security reasons.

Israeli companies import leather from Europe and pass it to Palestinian
companies, who turn it into shoes and jackets. The Palestinians pass the
goods back to the Israelis, who then send them to Europe as Israeli
products. The point of this is that Israeli importers and exporters cream
off a percentage that would otherwise have gone to Palestinians.

Another - politically more serious - fraud arises because produce from
Jewish settlements in the occupied territories is not covered by trade
agreements with Europe and is therefore not entitled to preferential
treatment.

Europe has made its view of the settlements extremely clear. "Settlements
change the physical character and demographic composition of the occupied
territories. All settlement activities are illegal and constitute a major
obstacle to peace," a statement from EU presidency said recently.

But what Europe says and does are two different things. By allowing
settlement products to be imported under an Israeli guise, Europe helps to
keep the settlements in business.

The more farsighted Israelis recognise this as an obstacle to peace. The
Gush Shalom organisation, for example, urges Israelis themselve to boycott
settlement produce, under the slogan, "A penny to the settlements is a
penny against peace."

In some cases there is no attempt to disguise the origin of these
products. The Golan Heights Winery exports 38% of all "Israeli" wine -
from vineyards on occupied Syrian land. It markets them under the labels
"Yarden", "Gamla", and "Golan", and the company's website lists
distributors in nine European countries, including House of Hallgarten in
Luton.

Ahava produces bath salts and cosmetics from the Dead sea on the occupied
West Bank. Its website lists outlets in Belgium, Germany, Italy and the
United Kingdom (including Selfridges in London). Other products would not
be difficult to track down: a long list is published on Gush Shalom's
website.

The EU has known about this for a long time but it held off taking action
on the grounds that there was no point in making a fuss while peace seemed
imminent. But in the last few months that has changed and peace seems
further away than ever. Action now could help to get it back on course.

Email
brian.whitaker@guardian.co.uk

 _______________________________________________________________________
From: "AL-MEZAN CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS" <mezan@hally.net>
To: <mezan@palnet.com>
Subject: Open Letter to the EU Member States
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 15:13:56 +0200

Open Letter to the European Union Member States

On the 18th of April three resolutions were passed concerning the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the UN Commission on Human Rights.

We welcome the decision of the European Union to support the resolution
which expressed grave concern at continuing Israeli settlement activities
(E7/CN.4/2001/L.31) which we consider a very serious breach of International
Law and an obstacle to finding any sort of solution to the conflict. However
we oppose the decision made to abstain in the voting of the resolution
concerning human rights in occupied Syrian Golan (E/CN.4/2001/L.6) and
particularly the resolution on the question of the violation of human rights
in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine (E/CN.4/2001/L.30).
The latter was the most crucial resolution. In this resolution among other
things the Commission:
n       Expressed grave concern at the deterioration of the human rights and
humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.
n       Condemned the disproportionate and indiscriminate recourse to force.
n       Reaffirmed that the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of
civilian persons in time of war was applicable to the Palestinian territory.
It also welcomed the recommendations contained in the report of the High
Commissioner and those contained in the report of the international
commission of inquiry, urged the Government of Israel to implement them and
requested the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the
Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 to follow up on the
implementation of those recommendations.
We appreciate that the EU did not vote against this resolution. However we
consider the resolution to be based on the most fundamental human rights
principles and rulings of International Humanitarian Law. We are surprised
by the EU's unwillingness to endorse this resolution and the principles it
stands for.
It is clear that a just and lasting peace will only be achieved by adhering
to the fundamental rights of the people. Any compromise of these will
inevitably lead to a continuation of the suffering of the Palestinian
people.
The lack of explicit support for this resolution and the principles it
stands for represents a lack of any deterrent action and thus a tacit
consent of the horrors which are perpetrated daily against the Palestinian
people indiscriminately.
We expect the European Union to become more involved in seeking a solution
of a conflict that has caused so severe suffering to civilians for such a
long time and to be more sympathetic to the cause of the oppressed. This is
indeed a moral and legal responsibility of the EU which is deeply enshrined
in its charter. The EU's commitment to protecting human rights is clearly
and explicitly outlined in the 1987 Single European Act, the 1992 Maastricht
Treaty and the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam. Since the early 1990's the EU has
developed a set of human rights provisions for inclusion in treaty-status
cooperation agreements between the European Community and third countries.
The standard provisions endorsed by the EU's General Affairs Council in May
1995 enable one party to take 'appropriate measures' (suspension or
termination of the cooperation agreement, in whole or in part) if the other
commits a human rights violation.
For these reasons we urge the EU to suspend the agreement on economic
association between Israel and each of the countries members of the EU on
the one side and with the state of Israel on the other implementing the Euro
Mediterranean Agreement of Association between the EU and Israel signed on
20 November 1995 in Luxemburg. And further we ask the European Union to
advance a formal request at the UN to send an international force to monitor
and prevent the severe human rights violations being perpetrated by the
Israeli Occupation Forces against the civilian Palestinian population.

End
_______________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release
Urgent Action Alert

24 April 2001

Israeli Human Rights Violations Increase:
Killing, Shelling, Arrests, and Closures Continue

Residents of al-Aroub Refugee Camp near Hebron came under attack from
Israeli forces last night and this morning when Israeli soldiers entered the
camp firing their weapons, shooting teargas, and damaging property.  The
camp also came under intensive heavy machinegun fire from a tank stationed
outside the camp for two hours last night.  These actions followed clashes
between Palestinian protestors and Israeli forces earlier in the day.  This
morning the camp was placed under curfew and the entrances to the camp were
sealed off.  The camp has been placed under curfew on numerous occasions
during the intifada.  On average these curfews have lasted for three or four
days at a time.  Two residents of the camp have been killed during the last
seven months and many others have been arrested.  A large contingent of
Israeli soldiers remains present in the camp, and a permanent Israeli
military post is located on top of the home of the director of the UNRWA in
the Camp.  Al-Aroub is located in an Israeli controlled "C" area
approximately 18 kilometers north of Hebron on the main Bethlehem/Hebron
road and is home to 13,000 refugees.  As the camp is located in Israeli
controlled territory, and there is no PA presence in the area, the use of
tank and heavy machinegun fire against the camp cannot be justified.  Unlike
in other areas that have been subjected to shelling Israeli forces complete
military and civil control of the camp allows them to enter into any area of
the camp.

The city of Hebron has also been subjected to nightly shooting for the last
several weeks and the residents of Hebron's old city have remained under
curfew since the outbreak of the intifada.  While the curfew has been
relaxed, today residents were only being allowed out of their homes from
8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Attacks by settlers and vandalism of private
Palestinian property also continue.

More than almost any other location in the West Bank, the village of Hussan
located 15 kilometers east of Bethlehem has increasingly come under attack
during the last weeks.  At least three residents of the village were
detained yesterday morning after it was alleged that they had participated
in stonings that have occurred near the village.  Those detained can be
added to the approximately 80 other residents of Hussan, including over 30
children, who have been arrested or detained over the last seven months.
This represents approximately 2% of the village's total population of close
to 5,000 residents.  The arrests were followed later in the day by a raid on
the village by heavily armed Israeli soldiers.  Reports received by al-Haq
state that a large contingent of Israeli soldiers wearing gas masks and
protective gear stormed the village firing teargas canisters
indiscriminately and shooting into the air.  Villagers reported that chaos
ensued, teargas filled homes, yet due to the shooting residents were forced
to remain inside their homes suffering silently from the gas.  One woman
went into convulsions due to exposure to the gas and remains in hospital in
Beit Jala, and Bilal Mohammad Hammamri, age 28, was severely burned when a
stun grenade was thrown at him.  The village is surrounded on all sides by
settlements and is next to the bypass road leading to the settlement of
Bitar, which is built on land confiscated from Hussan.  The village remains
under closure with travel to and from the village severely restricted.

Over the last three days Israeli forces stationed around the village have
also intensified their harassment of motorists in the area.  Yesterday
soldiers stationed at a checkpoint outside the village threw several stun
grenades at the only bus belonging to the al-Arkoub Transportation Company.
The bus caught fire and was completely destroyed.  Another bus driver
reported being verbally abused and humiliated in front of his passengers at
the checkpoint.  Soldiers threw a gas canister and stun grenade at another
bus carrying workers, and on April 22, bus driver Rashid Mohammad Zul'a was
taken from his bus and beaten.  The windows on his bus were also broken.

In other news, according to information from al-Mezan Center for Human
Rights in Gaza Israeli forces detained Advocate Adnan al-Hajjar, the
coordinator of al-Mezan's Legal Unit, yesterday.  Al-Hajjar was detained as
he was crossing from Egypt into Gaza at the Rafah Crossing following his
participation in a human rights training seminar in Cairo.  He is a
well-respected human rights activist and has no previous history of arrest
or involvement in political or criminal activity.  His detention is a
violation of his basic rights and constitutes a threat to the capacity of
human rights organizations to monitor and document human rights violations
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  As no official reason for his
detention has been given, but it is suspected that he is being held because
of his human rights activism and outspokenness.  This is not the first case
of a human rights activist being abused or detained by Israeli soldiers.
Last week Ahmed Jaradat, a human rights activist for the Alternative
Information Center in Bethlehem, and a former fieldworker for al-Haq, was
detain at a checkpoint on his way home and was forced to lay in the road
away from cover when shooting broke out in the area.  After he was allowed
to crawl behind the jeep for cover, he was forced to lie next to the jeep's
door and was repeatedly stepped on when the Israeli soldiers got out of the
jeep to fire their guns.  He was later bound, blindfolded and then taken to
a nearby military base for questioning.  When he was released he was forced
out of the military base and into the street even though there was shooting
in the area and it was too late to find a taxi home.  He managed to reach a
nearby home where he took shelter for the night.

A twelve-year-old Palestinian boy was also killed in Gaza yesterday during
the funeral of a Palestinian officer who died as a result of wounds
sustained during the shelling of his station last week.  According to
reports received by al-Haq Muhind Nizar Muharb was struck in the head by a
bullet fired from an Israeli outpost located near the cemetery to which the
funeral procession was headed.  Initial reports state that a burst of
gunfire was shot into the air during the funeral and that Israeli forces
responded by opening fire onto the crowd of mourners.  At least another 11
Palestinian civilians were injured in the attack.  There was no immediate
threat posed to the Israeli forces who opened fire on the funeral
procession, and there were no clashes in the area to warrant the attack.
This is a clear violation of Israel's own open fire regulations and should
be investigated by the Israeli authorities.  Israel must begin holding its
soldiers accountable for their actions.  Continued attacks upon civilians,
the continued excessive use of force by the Israeli military, and its
disregard for its own regulations devalue Palestinian life and have allowed
grave violations of Palestinians' human rights to continue.

In response the escalating attacks by Israeli forces on innocent Palestinian
civilians and the Israeli authorities complete disregard of international
law and repeated international condemnation, al-Haq calls upon the
International community to immediately,

1.  Act to ensures that the Israeli authorities abide by provisions of
international humanitarian and human rights law, and its own internal rules
of engagement.
2.  Place pressure upon the High Commission for Human Rights to send human
rights monitors to the Occupied Territories to document abuses perpetrated
by the Israeli Occupying forces.
3.  Press for immediate action by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth
Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 of the
Convention "to ensure respect for the present Convention in all
circumstances".
4.  Demand the immediate release of Advocate Adnan al-Hajjar and an
investigation into the abuse of Ahmed Jaradat.

-END-

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
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AL-HAQ, an NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council
of the United Nations and the West Bank affiliate of the International
Commission of Jurists-Geneva, was established in 1979 by a group of
Palestinian lawyers in order to uphold the rule of law and defend
Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. AL-HAQ, P.O.
Box 1413, Ramallah, Palestine. Tel: +972 2 295 4646, Fax: +972 2 295 4903,
E-mail haq@alhaq.org, www.alhaq.org Website:
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