05 April 2010

Coalition of NGOs and MPs call for OECD to Deny Israel Membership

Brussels, Belgium - April 3, 2010 – Israel does not deserve to be accepted into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza said in a statement today.

Israel has been lobbying for nearly 20 years to be admitted to the OECD, founded in 1961 for wealthy industrialized democracies to meet and co-ordinate economic and social policies. It includes the United States and most of Europe. The media have reported that Israel has been told that its accession to the exclusive “club” of the world’s most developed economies is all but assured when the 30 member states meet in May.

“However, only democratic countries are allowed to join the OECD,” noted Dr. Arafat Shoukri, chair of the ECESG. “Israel clearly does not satisfy that requirement as long as it continues to imprison nearly 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, control the movement of 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and limit the civil rights of another million Palestinian citizens in Israel.”

A draft report from the OECD on Israel’s application, leaked to the media, concedes that Israel has breached one of the organization’s key requirements related to providing accurate and transparent data on its economic activity. The information supplied by Israel, the report notes, includes not only the economic activity of its citizens inside its recognized borders, but also Jewish settlers who live in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights in violation of international law. Thus, the statistics provided by Israel conceal the occupation while simultaneously treating it as a permanent fact.

Israel’s bid for OECD membership is opposed by the leaders of its Arab minority, one-fifth of the population. Last month, the Higher Follow-Up Committee, the minority’s main political body, petitioned the OECD to reject Israel. It pointed out that half of Israel’s Arab citizens are living below the poverty line, a rate three times higher than among Israeli Jews, and that on average, Arab citizens earn salaries that are one-third less than Jews. Another OECD report, published in January, showed that, even on the basis of Israel’s figures excluding the Palestinians, Israel would still have the widest social gaps of any member state.

“European law clearly forbids European countries from recognizing the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories – a prohibition affirmed recently by the Russell (International War Crimes) Tribunal,” said Dr. Shoukri. ” If the OECD accepts Israel as a member, it will make a mockery of both the rule of law and the principles of human decency.”

The ECESG (www.savegaza.eu) is an umbrella body of non-governmental organizations across Europe that advocates the fundamental right of the Palestinian people in Gaza to live in peace and dignity without being subjected to any form of collective punishment such as the cutting of supplies of food, fuel and medicine or their denial of free access to travel outside Gaza Strip. The ECESG supports the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Gaza and lobbies for pressure to be exerted on the occupying power to lift its siege and end the human tragedy there. It urges the participation of politicians and non-politicians alike to honor their duty to stop the suffering of 1.5 million people trapped in Gaza under the most inhumane conditions. source