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EU Preferential Trade Agreement with Israel must now be in question in light of destruction of Jericho Jail - de Brún

15 March, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called upon the European Union to suspend its controversial preferential trade agreement with Israel after the destruction of Jericho Jail, the killing of a guard and the public humiliation and ill-treatment of prisoners.

She also questioned the timing of the Israeli action as the President of the Palestinian Legislative Assembly travelled to Strasbourg to address the European Parliament, and the timing of the withdrawal of British and American observers who were monitoring the jail at Jericho under an international agreement.

The destruction of Jericho Jail and the resulting violence has led to an extremely grave situation in Palestine. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has cut short a trip to the European Parliament and returned home to take charge of the situation there.

The Parliament scheduled a special debate on the issue this morning.

Speaking from Strasbourg following the debate, Ms de Brún said:

"The European Parliament this morning scheduled a special sitting to discuss the Israeli Army destruction of Jericho Jail and the resulting violence, including the taking of hostages, which has led the President of the Palestinian Authority to cancel his trip to the European Parliament and return home.

"Today's visit to the European Parliament was due to be extremely significant. Mr Abbas would have addressed the European Parliament in solemn session on a par with many other national leaders in recent times. That session has had to be cancelled due to the grave situation in Palestine following the withdrawal of British and American monitors and the Israeli destruction of Jericho Jail.

"There is much anger at European level that Israel continues to behave in such a threatening manner towards the Palestinian people. In the light of this, the EU should suspend its preferential trade agreement with Israel. The EU-Israel Association Agreement grants Israel favourable trading terms with the EU. This agreement includes a clause, which states that it is based on respect for human rights and democratic principles.

"The EU needs to take decisive action as Israel appears hell bent on causing further destruction in Palestine in advance of the forthcoming Israeli elections." ENDS

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