As part of the European Union’s assessment of its partnership with 12 neighboring countries known as the “European Neighborhood Policy” (ENP), the European Commission and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton listed a set of characteristically harsh ‘recommendations’ regarding relations with Israel.
The recommendations, titled “Delivering on a new European Neighbourhood Policy,” include a call on Israel “to continue to step up its efforts to minimise settler violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and to bring all perpetrators to justice” and “address the excessive use of administrative detention.”
“The situation in the occupied territories, in the context of a stalled peace process and worrying developments on the ground, including increased settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, remained tense,” they said.
“Palestinian economic and social rights remain hampered by Israeli restrictions on the freedom of movement. Restrictions on movement and access have a negative impact on the ability of Palestinians to obtain Schengen visas. Property rights came under particular strain and the risk of forced displacement of Bedouin communities increased. “
They also mentioned “a trend that became apparent in 2010 continued with an unprecedented number of bills that can be labelled as "discriminatory" or even "anti-democratic being tabled in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.”
The EU report also said “progress on the situation of the Arab minority was limited. Women’s rights have become the subject of increasing debate as a result of a more aggressive attitude on the part of the ultra-Orthodox groups.”
“The EU remains one of the largest donors supporting Israeli civil society efforts to promote human rights and conflict resolution. This exposes the EU to some public and government criticism,” the report continued.
On the economic situation in Israel, the report said that “despite good economic growth and low unemployment, Israel has the highest poverty rate in the OECD and remains characterised by deep socio-economic cleavages.”
The only positive remark in the report was in reference to Israel’s "good performance" in the fight against corruption, and continued to protect the independence of the judiciary.
The European Neighborhood Policy report, which was drafted by Catherine Ashton and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle came one day after EU Foreign Ministers issued a statement on the Middle East Peace Process, sharply criticizing Israel for its policy regarding the so-called “settlements in the West Bank,” or, more accurately- Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.