Meretz MK and coalition member Mossi Raz lobbied European members of parliament and members of the European Parliament (MEPs) this week to encourage “robust consequences” for what he described as Israel’s violations of international law.
Raz and Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman sent a letter to hundreds of MEPs detailing what they said were “widespread displacement and forcible transfer of Palestinians” in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and asked them to sign it.
Once the letter has received enough signatures, it will be presented to the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, various European foreign ministers and be published in media outlets.
The letter, obtained by The Jerusalem Post, was originally sent earlier this year. But Raz sent a follow-up email this Tuesday, reiterating his request for their support and signatures.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office declined a request for comment regarding his views on a member of the coalition lobbying against the government.
“Foreign members of parliament have a role in ending the occupation,” Raz said, adding that it was “an Israeli interest of the first degree” and “an unparalleled patriotic deed.”
Meretz leader and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In his email on Tuesday, Raz said the letter had already been signed by more than 300 European MPs and MEPs, adding: “We would be most grateful if you would add your name to this initiative as well.”
“The Bennett government” is advancing the planning process for the construction of large numbers of housing units in the E1 area of the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, outside of Jerusalem, something advocates of a two-state solution say would harm contiguous Palestinian development in that area, rendering a Palestinian state unviable, Raz said.
“Decades of occupation and dispossession” have resulted in a “discriminatory reality in which Israelis and Palestinians have different and unequal rights,” the letter said, adding that a recent report by Human Rights Watch accused Israel of apartheid.
The letter also cited what it said was “widespread displacement and forcible transfer of Palestinians currently taking place across the West Bank,” highlighting imminent evictions in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
“Violations of international law, like the ones we witnessed unfolding, must come with robust consequences, in Israel-Palestine, as elsewhere,” the letter said.
“It is crucial that European governments support relevant international accountability efforts,” the letter added, calling for European countries “to take immediate and concrete steps to prevent the displacement and forcible transfer of Palestinian families, especially in east Jerusalem.”
The letter also called for European countries “to upgrade and actualize efforts” regarding “the illegality of Israeli settlements and the importance of differentiating between Israel and the settlements.”
Asked what the implication of “robust consequences” and “relevant international accountability efforts” means, Raz said he and Touma-Sliman were “calling on the European Union to use diplomatic tools it has with Israel to stop evictions and house demolitions, construction in the settlements and settler violence, and to seek a diplomatic solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Asked whether he was calling for sanctions against Israel, Raz said: “I oppose a boycott against Israel and am not calling for it,” adding that he was instead asking representatives of the European Union “to work with the government of Israel and to declare that they support the end of the occupation and the settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel.”
Asked whether he would continue to lobby foreign members of parliament against his own government, Raz said he would “continue to struggle for Israel and against the occupation with the means at my disposal. Together with the daily struggle in Israel, I believe that foreign members of parliament have a role in ending the occupation, which is an Israeli interest of the first degree… to ensure a better future for Israelis, and it is not against Israel, but rather an unparalleled patriotic deed.”