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European Body Condemns Israel for ‘torture,’ Arrests, Violence

March 11, 1988
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The Parliament of Europe, traditionally one of the most pro-Israel international forums, overwhelmingly approved a resolution Thursday condemning Israel for inhumane treatment of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip including “torture, arbitrary arrests, reprisals and other acts of violence.”

The resolution, carried by a show of hands, followed by a day the European Parliament’s refusal to ratify three economic agreements Israel signed last year with the 12-nation European Community. The Parliament is the European Community’s legislative body.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment Thursday over the rejection of the economic protocols. A ministry spokesman said Israel hoped the deputies would differentiate between an essentially technical and economic issue, on the one hand, and their opinions of the way Israel was handling Arab unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel has not yet reacted to Thursday’s resolution of the European Parliament, which some deputies said was the harshest condemnation of a foreign government ever voted by that body. The language is tougher than that used against South Africa and Turkey for human rights violations.

The resolution expressed solidarity with the 82 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the past three months and with “all the Palestinians in the region living in intolerable conditions.”

It calls for an international peace conference with the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization and asks the foreign ministers of the 12 E.C. member states to work toward a negotiated settlement through an international conference.

The resolution was introduced jointly by five of the Parliament’s political groupings — Socialists, Christian Democrats, Conservatives, the Green Party and the Communists.

The signatories included some of Israel’s best friends in Western Europe, among them Erik Blumenfeld and Otto Habsburg of West Germany, who have always supported pro-Israel resolutions and economic aid to Israel.


The tough language was, in fact, a compromise worked out in the course of debate during which some deputies urged an even stronger condemnation of Israel’s behavior. Among the 20 who spoke before the vote, only Alfred Coste-Floret of France defended the Israeli government.

The tone of the speakers was such that the Parliament’s president, Lord Plum, a British Conservative and longtime friend of Israel, considered a show of hands sufficient for the vote, given the apparent consensus among the deputies. According to eyewitnesses, Lord Plum himself voted for the resolution.

Deputies told reporters later that “Israel must be saved from itself.” Many said, “Something has happened to the Israel we know and love — the country has gone mad.”

The Parliament of Europe, though it has no political power, wields considerable moral force. Its rejection Wednesday of the economic agreements painstakingly negotiated by Israel with the 12 E.C. states over a period of two years damages Israel economically and was a blow to its prestige.

Adding to those injuries was the accusation by the E.C. commissioner in charge of the negotiations, former French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson, that Israeli officials have not respected the terms of the economic agreements they signed.

Cheysson said that Agrexco, Israel’s export agency, is still trying to maintain its monopoly of agricultural exports from the administered territories, in violation of the terms of the agreement.

The statement by the Israeli Foreign Ministry Thursday said Israel expected that after clarification, the economic agreements will be brought before the European Parliament again for ratification.

But according to Parliament sources here, they cannot be resubmitted now, but must be renegotiated from scratch.

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