PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi bid farewell to outgoing European Union Representative to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and UNRWA, John Gatt-Rutter at the PLO Headquarters in Ramallah. Mr. Gatt-Rutter was accompanied by Deputy Head of Delegation David Geer.
In the meeting, Dr. Ashrawi expressed appreciation to the European Union (EU) for its continued support of Palestinian institution- and nation-building and for its projects in Jerusalem and in Area C. She also recognized the EU for its anti-settlement guidelines and its commitment to the labeling of settlement products and produce.
Dr. Ashrawi said, “Such European initiatives against the illegal settlements are initial steps; in order to be effective, they must be followed up with firm EU policy and legislation and concrete measures, including sanctions, to hold Israel accountable.”
In reaction to Israel’s deliberate and systematic campaign to territorially, demographically and politically transform Palestine with its illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank, Dr. Ashrawi referred to the latest EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions that called for the creation of an international support group and for efforts to work with regional partners on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative:
“It is imperative that the EU, along with other members of the international community, move rapidly and collectively to undertake serious initiatives to end the military occupation and Israel’s persistent violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. An expanded P5+1 format might be effective if it has a serious plan and the political will to ensure such compliance.”
Both parties also discussed the internal Palestinian situation, including reconciliation attempts, and Dr. Ashrawi stressed the importance of reconnecting Gaza to the West Bank instead of separating it from the rest of Palestine, while ensuring a total lifting of the siege and carrying out real reconstruction.
Dr. Ashrawi said: “Palestinian unity needs to be politically, institutionally and economically enacted in order to face the challenges of the occupation, as well as regional and global developments.”
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Ashrawi personally thanked Mr. Gatt-Rutter for his professionalism and serious engagement throughout his tenure in Jerusalem. She also wished him success in his career, as he takes up his new post in Brussels, and both promised to maintain contact.