Human Lives Human Rights:
The European Union (EU) has issued a resolute condemnation of the remarks made by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir regarding the freedom of movement for Arabs within the occupied West Bank. According to media reports on Friday, the EU expressed strong disapproval of the comments.
The EU emphasized that the foundation of the relationship between Israel and the EU should be rooted in the principles of upholding human rights and democratic values, as highlighted by Palestine’s official news agency, Wafa.
Ben-Gvir’s statement, where he asserted that his right, along with his family’s, to navigate the roads of Judea and Samaria (biblical terms for the occupied territory) held greater importance than the movement rights of Arabs, drew widespread censure. The United States also labeled this rhetoric as “racist.”
In response, the EU reaffirmed its belief in the fundamental equality of all individuals and underscored the centrality of democratic values and respect for human rights in the partnership between the EU and Israel. This encompasses the consideration of the individuals residing under occupation within Palestinian territory.
Highlighting the illegality of settlements under international law and their role as impediments to peace, the EU restated its objection to Israel’s settlement policy, which contributes to movement restrictions and limited access.
The EU further urged Israel to enhance the freedom of movement and accessibility for Palestinians, a crucial step toward facilitating expedited Palestinian construction activities.
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was partitioned into three sectors under the 1995 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Area A is managed by the Palestinian Authority in terms of both security and administration, Area B falls under Palestinian civil administration and Israeli security control, while Israel exercises civil and security control over Area C.
Amid these dynamics, approximately 700,000 Israeli settlers inhabit 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the occupied West Bank. As per international law, all Jewish settlements within occupied territories are deemed unlawful. The EU’s stance underscores its commitment to human rights, equality, and the pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict.