Dr. Javier Solana,
EU High Representative
for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
Council of the European Union
Rue de la Loi, 175
B-1048 Bruxelles

Telephone (32-2) 281 61 11
Fax (32-2) 281 69 99

Dear Dr. Solana,

We are writing to you to enquire about the position of the EU regarding the recent violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, in particular the Gaza strip, and to communicate to you our feelings of anger and frustration about the fact that the EU has stopped its financial help to the elected Palestinian Government of National Unity. But first let us introduce ourselves to you.

We are members of the board of the Foundation Groningen-Jabalya which has as its mission the promotion of understanding and involvement between the inhabitants of the city of Groningen, the Netherlands and Jabalya, a Palestinian city in the north of the Gaza strip. Therefore, we strive for ties of collaboration and friendship between our cities. In this vein, we have initiated and completed with the help of the Groningen municipality the building of a youth centre in Jabalaya for the purpose of providing the Palestinian youth opportunities for sport and intellectual development.

We were recently shocked by the level of factional violence that hit the Gaza strip. We are even more schocked by the Israeli attacks with airplanes and tanks. There have been many casualties, both dead and wounded, and much destruction in Gaza, also in Jabalya. We are seriously worried that all the work we and others have done to improve the perspectives for the Palestinian youth will be wiped out in this circle of violence.

It is our strong belief that the isolation policy perpetrated among others by the EU against the legally elected government and the transformation of the Gaza strip by Israel into the largest ghetto and prison that the world has known have aggravated the competition to power between the two main Palestinian factions and incited the violence between them. The liquidation policy of Israel and the imprisonment of elected officials without serious protests from the “leading democracies” of the world did not bode well for the tense atmosphere in the occupied territories. We condemn the violence that resulted between the Palestinian factions although we do understand its causes. What we do not understand, however, is the role of the EU in the escalation of that violence. At the time when the factional fighting was escalating in Gaza, the EU Border Assistance Mission at Rafah Crossing Point allowed a large number of trained and armed men, belonging to one of the factions, to enter into Gaza. Instead of trying to use its good offices to lower the level of violence, the EU was pouring oil on the fire. We fail to understand the intentions of this move on the EU side.

The Palestinian people have suffered a lot since the creation of the State of Israel and even more since the occupation of what has been left of the Palestinian territories after the 1967 war. In Gaza, commodities such as food and medicine are allowed in too small quantities to fulfil the basic needs of the people of Gaza who live on the most densely populated area of the world. The facilities for electricity and clean drinking water have been willingly destroyed. The end of the suffering is not in sight and it will surely worsen with the increasing violence.

We therefore ask you in your capacity as the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy to do all you can to stop the violence in the Palestinian territories and to protest against the Israeli Government policy of liquidation of Palestinian activists and the arrest of elected and non-elected Palestinian leaders. This policy has only increased the level of violence and led to the breakdown of the ceasefire which held for a long period of time. It is time that the EU honestly works towards the ending of the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the foundation of a Palestinian state, if need be through sanctions against the occupier and not through punishing and starving the occupied. Once the will exists, the possibilities for such an action are many. The EU can in our opinion exert pressure on Israel by suspending the Association Convention with this country as long as violations of the rights of the Palestinians continue. The EU can also stop all export, import and use of European airports and havens for transit of weapons to or from this country. This proposal has been made by many politicians in the Netherlands, but unfortunately without success until now.

On behalf of the Board of the Foundation Groningen-Jabalya,

Jan Keulen