Binyamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu is back in power in Israel but his country is facing criticismGetty Images

A group of former EU diplomats, political leaders and foreign ministers has called for Israel to be held to account for its actions in Palestine.

In a letter to EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini, the group also urges the EU to review its policy towards Palestine, and questioned whether the US was best placed to lead negotiations and help to secure a lasting peace deal between Israel and Palestine.

The group, which includes former foreign ministers of France, Spain and Sweden, advocates "urgent action" in order to "construct a coherent and effective policy on the question of Palestine".

It stated: "We maintain our view that the current financial and political assistance given by Europe and America to the Palestinian Authority achieves little more than the preservation of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and imprisonment of Gaza.

"The Palestinian Authority's tenuous grip on the West Bank population's allegiance has required strong security and other dependence on Israel, funded primarily by Europe and the US. Gaza has shamefully been left to one side."

Known as the European Persons Group, its members include Hubert Védrine and Roland Dumas, former foreign ministers of France, Andreas van Agt, former prime minister of the Netherlands, John Bruton, a former prime minister of Ireland, Michel Rocard, former prime minister of France, Javier Solana, former Nato secretary general and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former UK ambassador to the UN, reports the Guardian.

The letter comes in the wake of the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ruled out supporting a Palestinian state in his election campaign.

It continues: "Mr Netanyahu expressed various views on Palestine in and around the recent election campaign, most of them cold to the concept of an independent Palestinian state.

"We are convinced in our own mind that he has little intention of negotiating seriously for a two-state solution within the terms of this incoming Israeli government.

"We also have low confidence that the US government will be in a position to take a lead on fresh negotiations with the vigor and the impartiality that a two-state outcome demands."

'Europe not holding Israel to account'

The letter accuses the EU of failing to establish an independent foreign policy on the Israel/Palestine conflict and hiding behind US leadership.

It says: "Europe has yet to find an effective way of holding Israel to account for the way it maintains the occupation. It is time now to demonstrate to both parties how seriously European public opinion takes contraventions of international law, the perpetration of atrocities and the denial of established rights."

With the issue of the Palestine conflict expected to come before the UN Security Council in coming months, it calls on the EU to make relations with Palestine and Israel conditional on progress towards a two-state solution.

The letter says: "Israel's long-term security, which we value highly, is severely compromised by the current trend of events, as its international reputation. The continued illegal expansion of settlements in area and population will only reinforce this trend.

"Standards of living and human rights in both territories have sunk shockingly low. It is no longer possible for the EU to allow these conditions to continue without grave risk to its international reputation and to its long-term interest in the stability of its neighbourhood.

"Hiding behind American leadership on the politics of the dispute is unedifying and unproductive. The apparently more urgent crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are little excuse either, when the scope to stand up for principled action on Israel-Palestine, along lines long established by past UN decisions, is better defined than in those other cases.

"We seem to forget that the context in Palestine is one of 47 years of military occupation, characterised by grave violations of international law."