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Israel: Human Rights

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times the EU-Israel Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) has met; what monitoring the HRWG has undertaken of the implementation of the human rights provisions of the EU-Israel Association Agreement; and what conclusions have been drawn from the monitoring. (187228)

Israel and the EU are committed to achieve closer political co-operation and dialogue on the basis of their common values. In November 2005, the EU-Israel subcommittee on Political Dialogue and Co-operation established an EU-Israel human rights working group. This informal working group has held two sessions on 7 June 2006 and 20 February 2007. A third is scheduled to take place on 15 April 2008. The EU-Israel subcommittee on Political Dialogue follows up the work of this informal working group. It last met to do so on 22 October 2007. The European Commission Delegation and EU member states posts in the region closely monitor the situation. Non-governmental organisations provide the EU with additional information and feedback. The situation is constantly evolving, making monitoring and assessment of it an ongoing process.

We continue to have concerns about the human rights situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We are particularly concerned by targeted killings of Palestinians by the Israel Defence Forces; the firing of artillery shells near populated areas of the Gaza Strip causing deaths of civilians; continued settlement construction in the west bank; the impact of the barrier; closures; settler violence; and intimidation and harassment of Palestinian citizens. We also remain extremely concerned about human rights abuses in areas where the Palestinian Authority should take responsibility, in particular its failure to prevent terrorist attacks and rocket attacks on Israeli communities from Gaza and the continuing violence between Palestinian groups. We regularly raise these concerns with the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority.