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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/veronique-de...

by Interview conducted by Francoise Germain-Robin

Veronique De Keyser: “There are, despite everything, reasons to be hopeful”.

Translated Sunday 20 July 2014, by Michael Peters

A Belgian Member of the European Parliament until last month, Veronique de Keyser actively fought there in favour of the creation of an independent Palestinian state and against the Israeli occupation. We met her at Avignon as the bombs were once again raining down on Gaza.

What was your reaction to this new Israeli outburst against the Gaza strip?

Veroniqe de Keyser: It didn’t surprise me. It was clear that Israel was going to do everything to prevent the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah which was announced a month ago. We have already seen this several times: as soon as such a possibility takes shape in this sense, something happens implicating Hamas. Israel forces Hamas into a mistake, which isn’t very difficult. A section of Hamas do not want peace and in the Israeli extremists, who are gaining more and more ground, including within the government, they find a willing adversary.

The moderate members of the two sides must stop this orchestrated escalation of violence. If not, we will witness this terrible piece of history repeating itself, worse and worse every time.

Is the risk not increased by the current situation in the region, with the advance of Jihadists in Iraq and Syria?
Veronique de Keyser: Of course. All the more so since they are already present in Palestine, even as an ultra-minority. The current chaos can only increase the risk. Israel is playing with fire. It sold us the story of Hamas as terrorists, but it risks awakening an even more dangerous force. Until now, Palestine and Israel have remained outside the chaos of the region. Now, they are on top of the volcano.

Are you not angered by the weakness of the European reaction?
Veronique de Keyser: In its relations with Israel, the EU has always been in total contradiction with its values and treaties. But at this moment things are in the process of evolving. It is perhaps, paradoxically, a reason to be hopeful. Thanks to the relentless work of international lawyers, civil servants and diplomats - but also thanks to the mobilisation of associations which are denouncing this state of affairs, the EU is realising that it cannot continue like this. Until then, it was passing a trade or cooperation agreement with Israel, which for the EU only concerned Israel, but for Israel it was valid too for the settlements. The EU, very hypocritically, was signing in any case and little by little Israel was gaining the acquiescence of the community on a whole range of issues. We had some MEPs – including Patrick le Hyaric and Marie Helene Viergat – who fought us every inch of the way on this. This way of doing things was questioned in recent months by international lawyers who refer to the texts of the Conventions and to the 2004 Judgement of the International Court of Justice to show that this is not legal and, if it continues in this vein, the EU itself could be brought to justice.
This led to what we saw on 8th July, 10 years after the Advisory Judgement of the International Court of Justice asked all countries to “stop all forms of support for the establishment of settlements”, where 17 countries of the EU took the mutual decision to ask their companies to no longer work with the Israeli settlements.
In my opinion, it is a turning point in EU/Israeli relations. Israel cannot say it is a sanction because it is the simple application of the law. But it touches a sore spot. It is a first step that shows that not all is hopeless, but is in an equally dramatic situation.

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