On Thursday, May 18, 2017, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the EU to renew its efforts to achieve a two-state solution. For the first time, the European Parliament incorporated a clause regarding the Arab Palestinian community in Israel, noting its crucial role in the achievement of lasting peace between the two nations. Likewise a historic first, the clause also calls for equality for all citizens in Israel.
The resolution states, the European Parliament : “[n]otes the potential of the Palestinian Arab community in Israel to play an important role in achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the importance of its involvement in and contribution to the peace process; calls for equal rights for all citizens of Israel, which is a basic precondition for fulfilling this role.”
This clause came in response to a week-long EU advocacy program during which the director of the Mossawa Center, Jafar Farah, and Members of the Knesset, Dr. Ahmad Tibi and Adv. Osama Saadi (Arab Movement for Change) met with members and political groups of the European Parliament to advocate for the rights of Palestinian Arabs in Israel, as well as in the occupied Palestinian territories. Emphasizing the untapped potential of the Palestinian Arab community in Israel to facilitate the achievement of just and lasting peace, in addition to the injustices faced by the Arab Palestinian community in Israel, the delegation explicitly encouraged the inclusion of such a clause in the resolution.
The European Parliament passed this resolution just over a week after the Israeli government launched a new attempt to undermine the status of the Arab Palestinian community in Israel through the introduction of the so-called Jewish nation-state bill. The bill, which passed its preliminary reading on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, explicitly states that “the right to the realization of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” Moreover, the bill seeks to strip the Arabic language of its official status. If passed, the bill would also allow segregation in building and planning on the basis of ethnicity and require the Israeli Supreme Court to prioritize the Jewish character of the state in cases of ambiguity. Thus, the European Parliament’s show of support this week, comes at a crucial moment when the rights and status of Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority are under particular threat.