Spain and Ireland call on the European Union to immediately review the partnership agreement with Israel

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The Prime Ministers of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, and Ireland, Leo Varadkar, asked the European Commission to conduct an urgent review of the agreement between the European Union and Israel and the extent of the latter’s compliance with its human rights obligations, in light of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The Prime Ministers of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, and Ireland, Leo Varadkar, asked the European Commission to conduct an urgent review of the agreement between the European Union and Israel and the extent of the latter’s compliance with its human rights obligations, in light of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In a joint letter addressed to Ursula von der Leyen, posted on Wednesday morning on X, the two officials expressed serious concerns about the Israeli military operation and possible violations of human rights and international law, stressing the initial International Court of Justice decision regarding the lawsuit brought by South Africa against Israel in which it accuses it, committing genocide in the Gaza Strip.

The International Court of Justice asked Israel to prevent and punish incitement to genocide and bring aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.

The two European officials added, “The expanded military operation in the Rafah area constitutes a serious and imminent threat that the international community must address urgently, as it will cause an even greater humanitarian catastrophe”.

Among the 27 EU member states, Spain and Ireland, along with Belgium, are the most critical voices of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, and have repeatedly called for recognition of a Palestinian state.

“The attacks by Hamas and other armed groups do not, and cannot justify, any violations of international humanitarian law in the military response, with their consequences for civilians in Gaza,” Sanchez and Varadkar wrote.

“There is an urgent need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

The letter also called for an urgent investigation into whether Israel is complying with its obligations under the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel, which makes respect for human rights and democratic principles an essential element of their relationship.

This agreement is the basic pillar of trade relations between the European Union and Israel, and it entered into force in 2000 after being signed in 1995.

“If the Commission concludes that there is such a violation, it must propose appropriate measures for the Council to consider,” the letter said.

The letter concluded by saying, “Implementing the two-state solution is the only way to ensure that the cycle of violence will not be repeated… The European Union bears the responsibility to take the necessary measures to make this a reality”.

The EU-Israel Association Agreement has been in force since 2000 and is the main legal instrument governing bilateral relations between the two partners, covering trade, technology, science and innovation and the fight against anti-Semitism and racism, among other topics.

Article 2 of it stipulates that relations must be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles that guide its domestic and international policy and constitute an essential element of this agreement.

It’s worth noting that Israel receives about 1.8 million Euros annually as part of the bloc’s “European Neighborhood Policy” and is an affiliated country to the “Horizon Europe” program, which is the largest program for funding research and innovation in Europe, with an annual budget of 95.5 billion Euros.

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