Oxfam urges EU to keep its word to Palestinians over settlements

Oxfam urges EU to keep its word to Palestinians over settlements

Oxfam urges EU to keep its word to Palestinians over settlements

A Palestinian stands near a stall with T-shirts reading ‘I love Palestine’ that are offered to tourists as part of a campaign to raise awareness among visitors about Palestinian identity in the West Bank. AFP photo

Aid organization Oxfam has criticized the European Union over falling short on its promise to Palestinians about preventing expansion of Israeli settlements and urged it to match its words with action in order to effectively challenge Israeli government policies as Israeli President Shimon Peres said yesterday that time should not be wasted in the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“A year after all 27 EU countries committed to challenging settlement expansion, forced displacement, and demolition of Palestinian property in an unprecedented Foreign Affairs Council statement, approvals for illegal settlements have increased and hundreds of Palestinian homes and structures have been bulldozed despite the EU saying this must stop,” Oxfam said in its report released today.

Peres calls for peace

While preparing this report, Oxfam cooperated with 30 of 80 members of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA). “Just a year ago, EU governments injected fresh hope that they would collectively use their political weight to improve the living conditions of Palestinians and halt Israeli violations of international law, but looking back, we can say they are at serious risk of failing both Palestinians and Europeans,” said Charles Silva, AIDA Chair.

With European leaders set to meet again to discuss the Middle East peace process today, the report “Failing to Make the Grade: How the EU can pass its own test and work to improve the lives of Palestinians in Area C,” explains what they can and must do to put their words into action.

The report stresses that the EU must honor its pledges to increase much-needed development aid for Area C and to push the Israeli government to remove restrictions that leave Palestinians vulnerable to demolition and prevent them from building proper homes, schools, roads, water infrastructure and electrical grids.

Meanwhile, Peres made a peace call between Palestinians and Israelis, Agence France-Press reported. “This is an important opportunity to reiterate our will, not to waste time and to return to negotiations and complete the peace process with the Palestinians based on two states for two peoples -- an Israeli state and a Palestinian state living as good neighbors and cooperating economically for the good of future generations,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the banks of the Dead Sea in Jordan. His remarks came a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the WEF that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is “still possible”.