Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement states that respect for human rights and democratic principles are an essential element of the Agreement. This is an important clause which has been included at the EU’s insistence in all the Association Agreements with neighbouring states. It puts human rights clearly on the table as a matter for mutual concern and discussion. This obviates the argument of many states that human rights are a purely domestic issue and establishes the EU’s right to raise these issues in the structures established by the Association Agreement for that purpose.
It is the EU which has sought to formalise relations with its neighbours in the form of these Agreements. The Agreements themselves make plain that human rights concerns are understood to exist in relation to Association partners and it provides for dialogue to address these. Such dialogue on human rights issues is actively pursued within the current structures of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. No EU member State, including Ireland, has considered that the existence of unresolved human rights problems in itself makes the Agreement invalid. If this were the case, then probably all of the Association Agreements, which the EU has painstakingly put in place, would have to be abandoned.
There is no provision in the EU-Israel Association Agreement for its suspension. Instead, the Agreement provides for disagreements over its implementation to be raised at the annual Association Council. There would be no support whatever at EU level for the suspension or cancellation of this Agreement.