6 November 2006
H.E. Mr. Erkki Tuomioja
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Dear Minister Tuomioja,
I am writing about the statement issued by the Government of Finland in its capacity as President of the European Union, concerning the current violence in Gaza. Since this issue concerns me very deeply as a Palestinian and a human being, I hope you will not mind if I make a number of points and suggestions.
Your November 4 statement says: “the European Union is profoundly concerned by increased violence in Gaza. The Presidency deplores the growing number of civilian casualties the Israeli military operation has caused. The right of all states to defend themselves does not justify disproportionate use of violence or actions which are contrary to international humanitarian law.”
It adds that, “The Presidency calls on the Palestinian leadership to bring an end to terrorist activities, including the firing of rockets on Israeli territory.”
I would like to draw your attention to the following:
According to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, Israel’s prime minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset on October 30 that in the past three months, the Israeli military has killed 300 “terrorists” in the Gaza Strip. According to B’Tselem’s investigation… over half of those killed… did not participate in the fighting when they were killed.
Your statement makes mention of “terrorist” activities by Palestinians while failing to uphold their right to resist foreign military occupation. This right is universally recognized.
Before the eyes of the world, Israeli occupation forces opened fire with live ammunition on a demonstration by courageous and exemplary unarmed Palestinian women in Beit Hanoun. EU member states have done nothing to assist Palestinians to peacefully resist, even as Israel mows them down with machine guns.
If your stated desire for peace is serious and sincere, here are six steps you can call for immediately:
1. Noting the serious escalation of crimes and human rights abuses by the Israeli government, including indiscriminate murder of civilians and continued confiscation of land and construction of illegal settler-colonies, suspend with immediate effect the EU-Israel Association Agreement pursuant to Article 2 of that agreement.
2. Implement a complete arms embargo preventing EU States from buying or selling weapons to Israel.
3. Noting the new statements by Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Threats Avigdor Lieberman threatening to carry out the extrajudicial execution the Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, and calling for the “surgical removal” (in other words ethnic cleansing) of all Arab citizens from Israel (See Ha’aretz newspaper, November 4 and 5), severely reduce contacts, aid and trade with Israel until it renounces violence, state terrorism, colonialism and ethnic cleansing and commits itself to the full implementation of international law and UN Resolutions, the ICJ decision on the West Bank Wall, and to ending all forms of officially-sanctioned and legally-enshrined racial discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens.
One third of the representatives and cabinet ministers elected by Palestinians under occupation have been kidnapped and held hostage by Israeli occupation forces since June.
4. Noting that one third of the representatives and cabinet ministers elected by Palestinians under occupation have been kidnapped and held hostage by Israeli occupation forces since June, EU states should refuse to issue visas to any Israeli officials to travel in EU territory until all Palestinian elected representatives are released forthwith and allowed to conduct their duties unmolested by the occupation forces.
5. Noting the repeated statements of the leaders of Palestinians under occupation, including prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, calling for a 10-year-truce modeled on that between the IRA and the United Kingdom government that began the Northern Ireland peace negotiations, immediately end the sanctions against the elected Palestinian Authority and conduct talks with all Palestinian parties.
6. Lend moral, political and other forms of support to Palestinian civil resistance especially the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions for which hundreds of Palestinian civil society organizations have called.
I trust that you will see these measures as the minimum reasonable steps that you are obligated to take given your country’s commitments under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and your attachment to principles of peace, justice, anti-racism and human rights. I am sure that you would want the European Union to do no less for you if you were in the same situation as the Palestinians.
I eagerly await your positive response.
Co-founder, The Electronic Intifada
(writing in a personal capacity)
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of “One Country - A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse” (Metropolitan Books, 2006)