Phillip Bennion MEP- Lib Dem
Thank you for your email.
As a Substitute Member of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council I follow developments in the region closely. Further information regarding my work in this area can be found on my website: http://philbennion.org/in-parliament/delegation-for-relations-with-the-palestinian-legislative-council
As you refer to in your email Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy released a statement in December 2012 concerning reports of Israeli government construction of new housing units in the West Bank. The statement can be read in full here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/133944.pdf
The European Parliament in December agreed a strongly-worded resolution warning of the dangers of new and expanded Israeli settlements, the on-going blockade of Gaza and the Israeli government’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenues being paid to the Palestinian Authority. The resolution can be read in full here:
More recently I know that the EU decided to forward the first part of its 2013 assistance package for the Palestinian people in order to ensure that vital services are not interrupted. Further information can be found here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-18_en.htm
I have spoken publicly against extending the scope of the Association Agreement with Israel until the Gaza blockade is lifted and I repeated this view to a group of Palestinians visiting the European Union last year.
In my view the EU now needs to consider the economic leverage it has over both sides through aid to the Palestinians and trade with Israel. In particular there has been recent talk of invoking the human rights clause in the Association Agreement with Israel, and in the current context I believe this would be an appropriate step to take.
However, it is important that Israel is not left isolated and that the democratic process can continue. Following the elections in Israel, and the fall in popularity of the right wing parties in Israel we need to keep an open dialogue with Israeli civil society, reformers and political moderates who want to see the peace process succeed.
Thank you again for your correspondence.
Phil Bennion MEP
Office of Phillip Bennion MEP
Telephone: +44(0)1827 312100