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The Lisbon Assurances - A Closer Look
Thursday June 18, 2009 11:11 by Sean Clinton - IFPAL
Analysis of Section C of the list of Assurances
The Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon (IFPAL) wish to draw attention to Section C of the list of Assurances the Irish government wishes its EU partners to endorse.
This section begins as follows: "The Union’s action on the international scene is guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law."
According to IFPAL spokesperson Raymond Deane, "this stated policy cannot be squared with the EU's consistent political support for successive Israeli governments that have ignored or violated every one of the above principles; the hollowness and hypocrisy of this passage puts in doubt every other assurance contained within the document as a whole. Given the Union's refusal to accept the result of the democratic Palestinian elections of January 2006 and its imposition on Hamas of conditions that are not imposed upon the Israeli aggressor and occupier, it is clear that, for the EU, human rights and fundamental freedoms are optional extras that are selectively applied to avoid embarrassing EU-friendly regimes that masquerade as civilised democracies."
IFPAL are also critical of the fact that the government will ask the people to ratify a Treaty which facilitates a change in the manner in which EU foreign policy is decided. This will result in EU foreign policy, which member states must uphold, being decided by qualified majority vote rather that unanimity thus removing Ireland’s right to espouse a foreign policy in keeping with the will of the Irish people. In a clear example of how the Government has already abdicated their responsibility in this field and how Ireland’s voice in the UN will be permanently neutered if Lisbon is ratified, the German ambassador to the UN, speaking in January on behalf of all EU member states, refused to support a UN Human Rights Council motion critical of Israel’s barbaric assault on the residents of Gaza using weapons of mass destruction that killed 1415 Palestinians including 314 children. This was not in keeping with the proclaimed values of the EU or the Irish people.
The spokesperson continued: "The EU ignores the human rights terms (Article 2) of its own Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Israel, ignored Israel’s appalling record of human rights abuse when it agreed to upgrade relations in June last year, took no action to defend defenceless, imprisoned and besieged civilians in Gaza while a state which receives lucrative trade concession with the EU used weapons of mass destruction to brutalise, terrorise and traumatise an entire population, and is still taking no action while Israel continues to impose a devastating siege on that population".
On Monday last the EU foreign ministers again agreed to postpone upgrading Israel's already privileged trading status with the Union, although IFPAL has learned that Brussels civil servants have been instructed to have all structures in place for such an upgrade, as soon as its implementation can be achieved without too much of a public outcry. Nonetheless, in justifying this postponement by referring to conditions which Israel has yet to fulfil, the Union made no mention of those past and ongoing Israeli crimes that, in the view of IFPAL, merit suspension of the Agreement, rather than an upgrade of Israel's status.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is visiting certain EU capitals for the second time, and is again receiving red carpet treatment. According to the IFPAL spokesperson, “Lieberman has stated his support for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, including the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and is at the head of a party (Israel, our Homeland) that has been described as neo-fascist. It's not so long since the EU boycotted the EU member state Austria because of the presence in its government of the late Joerg Haider, but compared to Lieberman, Haider was a moderate. How can such double standards be justified?”
The IFPAL spokesperson concluded: "Until the EU demonstrates an evenhanded commitment to human and political rights and suspends all trading relations with the Israeli state until it complies with international law and international humanitarian law, none of the Union's assurances can be taken seriously."