Smith Hails Yellow Card for EU-Israel Association Agreement

04 December 2008
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) hailed the postponement of a vote on the proposed Association Agreement between the EU and the state of Israel as an opportunity to halt "a wrongheaded and poorly timed proposal".

The European Parliament had been due to vote on a proposal to ratify the Agreement, which would provide for a closer relationship between Israel and the EU and the inclusion of Israel in certain community programmes, particularly the university research budgets. The vote was postponed after the intervention of the Greens/European Free Alliance and others to the effect that voting on the Agreement now would send precisely the wrong signals over the Middle East peace process. Smith, who visited Palestine and Israel last year to see first hand how civilians on all sides of the conflict live, opposes the Association Agreement until Israel makes demonstrable progress towards a just peace.

Speaking after the postponement Smith said:

"With a new US President we have, perhaps, a new opportunity for a fresh impetus in the Middle East peace process. To bring forward the Association Agreement now is wrongheaded and poorly timed.

"The state of Israel is in clear breach of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament over the treatment of the Palestinian people. There has been more and more international criticism of Israel's actions of late, notably from the UN, so for the EU Member State governments to seek to upgrade Israel's relations with the EU sends precisely the wrong signal.

"Of course, the vote is only postponed, and this issue will come back. But this delay will give those of us who would seek to see more conditionality in the EU's relations with Israel more time to marshal our case and present our arguments. The EU is a Community of Values, based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Israel falls far short of our standards and until such time as they improve I see no case for upgrading relations."