Amnesty urges incoming EU Presidency to ensure Israel respects human rights

BRUSSELS, Dec 18 (KUNA) — The human rights watchdog Amnesty International called on Thursday on the Czech Republic which takes up the presidency of the European Union (EU) for the very first time on January 1 to deal with the question of Israel’s record of human rights.

During the Czech EU Presidency, the future direction on the EUs relations with neighbouring countries will be defined, in particular the countries of the Southern Mediterranean, noted Amnestys EU office in Brussels. Amnesty International called on the Czech Presidency to ensure that the future direction of relations with neighbouring countries is founded on respect for human rights, by agreeing on a “new generation” Action Plan with Israel that contains not only the space to discuss human rights concerns, but also concrete benchmarks, commitments and programmes to address these concerns.

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The first country to negotiate one of these “next generation” Action Plans with the EU will be Israel, the details of which will be mutually agreed by the end of the Czech EU presidency.

“The human rights component in the current Action Plan between the EU and Israel is seriously deficient. Therefore, it is imperative that this deficiency is dealt with from the outset,” said Amnesty.

“As an advocate for human rights worldwide, the EU has been losing credibility. As the EU stumbles on its human rights record, its ability to influence others declines,” it added.

Last week , EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels decided to upgrade ties with Israel to a special status.