European Parliament Working Group Refused Entry To Gaza By Israel
Le autorità israeliane negano l'entrata a Gaza alla delegazione del Parlamento Europeo
The Chairperson of the European Parliament's Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council (DPLC), Emer Costello, has said that she is both astounded and dismayed at the decision of the Israeli authorities to refuse an official visit of the Delegation to Gaza. The visit, which was scheduled to take place between 27 and 30 October 2013, had the full support of Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. Mrs Costello said:
"Despite interventions by the President of Parliament and other distinguished Parliamentarians, the Israeli Authorities are preventing elected members of an official delegation from paying a humanitarian visit to this ravaged and impoverished little country. The official reason for refusal of access was cited as being 'in line with the policy according to which Israel does not facilitate visits to the Gaza Strip which will strengthen Hamas, a terror organization designated as such also by the European Union.' This decision is deplorable and without foundation.
Our visit was due to take place under the auspices of UNRWA, and clearly focused on vital public services such as schools, health centres and food distribution centres. Furthermore, we had arranged to visit EU-funded job programmes and hold meetings on education with students from the Christian community. Given the worrying current developments in the region, the programme had a purely social, economic and humanitarian focus.
Today at the European Parliament we voted on the budget line ‘financial assistance to Palestine, the peace process and UNRWA’, granting €300 million in funding to the region for 2014. This makes the decision to refuse access to elected Members of the European Parliament even more disgraceful and nonsensical.
I have requested that President Schulz and High Representative Catherine Ashton take up the issue with the Israeli authorities and that we continue with the mission. In the event that we are refused access to Gaza, it is envisaged that we meet with UNRWA in the West Bank. The individual Members of the Working Group will also raise the issue with the governments of their Member States."
once again the Israeli authority shows lack of respect not only for human rights but also for fair relations with other countries.
I would like to remind what happened to a European diplomatic mission in the West Bank, when the French representative was beaten and the humanitarian aid (tents and food) was seized in the area C of the Jordan Valley, where every day Palestinians are evacuated and villages destroyed.
As a result, the French diplomat was recalled.
If another country would have acted in this way, it would have been considered as an outrageous scandal, it would have likely led to diplomatic ruptures or threat of sanctions, while in the case of Israel and its arrogance it is merely blame, disapproval.
Anyway the central issue concerning Gaza is still the illegal siege, and I would have liked to read in your statement a clear reference to the necessity of ending the siege.
I also remind you that in Gaza there are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who come from different political parties, therefore you should have included in your programme a visit to them, besides the visit to UNRWA structures.
Despite the situation, in Gaza there is a lively society, and groups of young artists that neither Israel nor Egypt, neither Hamas nor the lack of coherence in our politics has been able to silence.
Unrwa is really doing a great job, not only in the Palestinian occupied territories but towards all the refugees in the diaspora and it is fundamental to stand with it, and yet we cannot delegate to Unrwa our weak and deplorable foreign policy.
So thank you for your concern and your dedication to peace and justice, I do hope that the guidelines on the relationships between Israel and the EU will not be put aside by our Eu bodies, but fully implemented without delay and hesitation.
Former Chair of the delegation for Relations with the Plc
Former Vice President of the Eu Parliament