Europe calls on PA to hold ‘free, inclusive’ elections

Middle East Monitor  /  July 14, 2023

The European Parliament has called on the Palestinian Authority to hold “free, credible, inclusive, transparent and fair” parliamentary and presidential elections without any further delay in order to strengthen its legitimacy.

This came in a set of recommendations to the European Council, the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on relations with the Palestinian Authority issued on Wednesday.

The Parliament reiterated the EU’s “unwavering support” for the two-state solution, as the only viable solution to the conflict, with the state of Israel and the state of Palestine living democratically side by side in peace, complete with guaranteed security, mutual recognition under the 1967 borders, mutually agreed-upon equivalent land swaps and Jerusalem as the capital of both states, based on the parameters in the Council conclusions of July 2014.

The European Parliament stressed that it is “unacceptable” that the PA has not held elections for more than 16 years and reiterated supporting Palestinian calls for renewed and inclusive political representation.

Therefore, it strongly urged the Palestinian political leadership to provide the necessary conditions to hold free, credible, inclusive, transparent and fair parliamentary and presidential elections without any further delay; promote the participation of youth, women and minorities in this process and underline the importance of an independent judiciary and respect for freedom of expression.

The parliament also demanded that Israel respect its obligations to allow these elections to take place in East Jerusalem.

European Parliament Rapporteur Evin Incir of the Social Democratic Party commented on the vote saying “today is an important day, the European Parliament stresses the importance of respecting international law in the pursuit of a peaceful, just and lasting two-state solution.”

She added that a strong and democratic Palestinian Authority is an essential part of achieving this goal in addition to ending the Israeli occupation and the expansion of Israeli settlements.

“The European Union also bears the responsibility to enhance cooperation with the Palestinian Authority on the basis of a long-term approach rather than annual decisions,” she added, indicating that these recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the High Representative Josep Borrell come at a very critical time.

In its set of recommendations, the Parliament also affirmed that the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are “illegal under international law” and constitute a major obstacle to the viability of the two-state solution, including lasting peace and security and demanded their immediate end. Adding that the EU should consider measures specifically aimed at addressing continued settlement expansion in the West Bank.

They expressed concern about the EU’s policy and financial assistance in the Palestinian territories, which are undermined by illegal settlements, and demanded compensation for the demolition of all EU-funded infrastructure in the area.

The text stated that in 2022, the Israeli authorities demolished or confiscated 101 structures funded by the European Union or EU member states (worth €337,019).

The resolution reiterated the EU’s strong support for the ICC’s work, integrity and impartiality. However, the MEPs noted the limited progress in the ICC’s ongoing investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Parliament called on the European Union to commit to assisting the ICC and the Prosecutor to advance the investigation and prosecution.

The recommendations were adopted by 338 votes in favour, 195 against, with 102 abstentions.