Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gaza: EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering's "deepest regret" over Gaza

At the opening of the plenary session on Monday, EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering expressed his "deepest regret" over the escalation of the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas, calling for an "immediate end to the violence on both sides". "It is not acceptable for people to continue to suffer, for violence to continue, and now United Nations staff are under fire. How far must the spiral of violence continue before commonsense and reason gain the upper-hand?" he asked.

President Pöttering strongly criticised Hamas for ending the ceasefire by firing rockets on Israel, and criticised Israel's "disproportionate reaction". "A state's inviolable right to protect itself does not justify violent acts which affect first and foremost civilian populations," he said.

Position of Parliament

President Pöttering stated that the EP "stands right behind the calls expressed by the European Council of Ministers as confirmed by the UN resolution of 8 January, 2008. This legally binding resolution is not being respected by either side - Hamas and Israel".

He noted with regret that 2008 was the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, a year which offered a sign of hope, demonstrating that there is "no need for a clash of civilisation", but the Gaza conflict has shown how quickly these efforts can be "wiped out".


"The peace process must be resumed and intensified. There needs to be a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine as two sovereign states in secure borders. Together with the Quartet, the Moderate Arab Partners and the parties in conflict, the European union, under the aegis of the United Nations, must bring about a rapid resumption of the peace negotiations."

"It is no longer a process of negotiations; we are in a process of escalation. We are now thinking in terms of crisis management, he said. "Peace in the Middle East cannot be solved solely by the region itself. The international community must be ready, more than ever before to promote peace, in the Middle East, in order for the bitter events of the past decades not to be perpetuated into forthcoming decades", he added.
International intervention must enable peace negotiations

Pointing to negotiations in the last decade, President Pöttering said the Franco-Egyptian plan to set up international mechanism to secure the Gaza borders must be a success. "At the beginning of the Annapolis process, the European Union already announced in its strategic paper that it was prepared to get involved, and contribute its commitment".

However, he stressed that any deployment of international security forces must be part of "an overall political objective" which creates trust, enables peace negotiations to take place, and guarantees "equal security for Israel and the Palestinians".

"As responsible politicians we must contribute resolutely to a lasting exit from the spiralling violence," he concluded.

MEPs will debate the situation in Gaza and Israel on Wednesday 14 January in the afternoon and vote on a resolution on Thursday 15 January 2009.

Source: European Parliament

Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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