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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Francis Wurtz:"En finir avec l’impunité des dirigeants israéliens"

by Pierre Barbancey

Francis Wurtz: "Enough of the Israeli Government’s Impunity!”

Translated Friday 14 March 2008, by Isabelle Métral

Francis Wurtz is president of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left group at the European Parliament.

HUMA: A massacre in Gaza, then an attack in Jerusalem: don’t these recent developments prove that the process set up at the Annapolis conference has failed?

WURTZ: All attacks against innocents must be condemned. But everybody knew that something serious was about to take place. The question was where, when, and in what form? As Raji Surani, head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights was recently saying (he is a staunch opponent of Islamists and of violent acts), as long as Israel commits war crimes, there will be people to retaliate. Nurit Peled, the great Israeli pacifist who won the Sakharov prize, said to Netanyahu after she had lost her child in an attack: “You killed my daughter”, meaning Israel’s policy was to blame. So it is one thing to condemn violence absolutely on humanitarian principles, and another to condone the Israeli government’s strategic blindness. For while this policy has atrocious human consequences, for Palestinians above all, it also has negative political effects: it boosts Hamas, undermines the credibility of Mahmoud Abbas, spreads humiliation, frustration, hatred, despair, and drives people into the extremists’ arms.

If the Israeli government’s aim is to make things worse to further its own ends, everyday that passes shows that unless initiatives are taken by parties external to the conflict the whole region will blaze up, with extremely dangerous and lasting consequences on international relations.

HUMA: French leaders do not seem disposed to take initiatives, nor does even the European Union. So where do you think that external intervention could come from? Shouldn’t sanctions against Israel be considered?

WURTZ: As concerns the European Union, I would personally distinguish the Council of Ministers (or Council of the European Union) from the European Parliament. A few days ago, the latter massively voted a resolution on Gaza, which had enormous effects in Palestine. Any political initiative is important in this context, for it throws into relief the political inertia of the Council of Ministers and of the European Council. Alignment on the US positions and the impunity repeatedly granted to Israeli leaders mean political paralysis for the EU. A change of attitude is absolutely necessary.

The mere fact of telling the truth about the historical responsibility of Israeli leaders would be really important, as of making the voice of Israeli opponents to the war more distinctly heard. Extremely brave and lucid people in Israel call for a rupture with the current irresponsible policy; not only with specific reference to international law but also in the interest of Israeli people, or even of the State of Israel itself.

For a long time now our group has recommended suspending the 2000 EU Association Agreement with Israel, considering that it has been outrageously violated by the Israeli party. The European Parliament voted for that suspension in 2002. But the least that should be done to begin with is to speak the plain truth. That alone would be a big step towards restoring the Palestinians’ honour and it would shift the political balance with respect to Israeli leaders who believe that they can get away with anything, no matter what they do. Our heads of state and prime ministers simply have no excuse for upholding Israeli impunity any further.

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