Menu JTA Search

Israel Could Face E.c. Sanctions if It Stalls on the Peace Process

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

A senior official of the European Community’s Executive Commission has warned the new Israeli government that failure to find a peaceful solution to the turmoil in the administered territories could result in economic sanctions against Israel.

The warning came last Thursday in tandem with an especially harsh condemnation of Israel in the European Parliament, the E.C.’s legislative body, which convenes here each month.

The 12-nation legislature criticized the settlement of “Jews from Eastern Europe in the occupied Palestinian territories” and urged an international monitoring team to make a visit.

Abel Matutes, the European commissioner in charge of Mediterranean affairs, told the parliament that the European Commission is ready to improve its relations with Israel, but that such ties could deteriorate if Israel does not take steps to again take up the Middle East peace process.

Matutes spoke at a session that was debating the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During the session, several members of the parliament were sharply critical of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians.

The session was followed by the adoption of a particularly tough anti-Israel resolution, proposed by a group of Socialists, Christian Democrats, Greens and leftist deputies.

The motion, adopted 67-17, with two abstentions, condemned Israel for what it called “its bloody repression of Palestinian civilians and its repeated violations of human rights in the occupied territories.”

CONDEMNS ‘TERRIBLE MASSACRE’

The resolution made reference to “the terrible massacre” of Palestinian workers “in cold blood” May 20 near the Israeli town of Rishon le-Zion, which, it said, “led to justified protests by the Palestinian population in the occupied territories, followed by bloody repression by the Israeli army.”

The motion was referring to the indiscriminate shooting of Palestinian day laborers in a hiring field by a deranged Israeli, who has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation. The gunman, Ami Popper, 21, killed seven Palestinians and wounded 10 more.

The resolution also said the E.C. “supports the proposal to send an international commission to the occupied territories to conduct an on-the-spot inquiry into human rights violations” and called for the 12 E.C. foreign ministers “to consider, in cooperation with the United Nations, the possibility of appointing observers to draw up a report on the need to send U.N. peacekeeping forces into the region and on human rights violations.”

Two weeks ago, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have sent an observer team to the territories. But at Israel’s invitation, U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar announced last week that he would send an emissary to visit the territories and various countries in the region.

The E.C. resolution, described by observers as one of the toughest against Israel in years, expressed concern that “the blockage of all peace moves leaves the field open to extremists on all sides, as was shown by the attempted sea landing by a Palestinian commando from the Palestine Liberation Front,” which was thwarted by Israeli forces on May 30.

But it also cited a demonstration in support of the Rishon le-Zion killer, held by followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, as an example of extremism that must be avoided “from wherever it comes.”

An Israeli diplomat in Brussels, the scat of the E.C.’s main institutions, called the resolution an “extremist one” and deplored the fact that the majority of European Parliament members were absent during the vote.

The situation in the territories will be discussed again by the E.C. next week in Luxembourg, where the 12 E.C. foreign ministers might send an “indirect message” to the new Israeli government, E.C. diplomatic sources indicated.

NEXT STORY