On the occasion of “40 years of occupation and no end in sight” for the Palestinian people, Luisa Morgantini, the Vice President of European Parliament last week spoke at length to Tejinder Singh (Tito), strongly denouncing the Israeli’s indiscriminate attacks against civilians as representing a serious breach of the principles of the Geneva Convention amounting to a war crime and called for an international UN force to protect civilians.
The Italian firebrand MEP said: “It’s very important to have one (UN force) but not forever. We need international UN peacekeeping troops to be sent to Gaza and West Bank. The international community has a duty to protect civilians, to stop the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, put an end to house demolitions and the destruction of infrastructure.”
Calling the situation as “a tragedy for both Palestinians and Israelis if there is not a rapid solution,” Morgantini said, “This month is 40 years of occupation and the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza is extremely cruel and has really taken away freedom of Palestinian people with the Wall which in the beginning was build for security reasons, blocking the people; it’s a Wall that penetrates deep inside the Palestinian territories and takes away land from what should be a Palestinian state, the fertile land of the villages.”
Portraying a factual image of Israel as a “divided society,” she said: “On the other hand, Israeli society is facing a lot of problems including corruption, imagine President of the country being accused of rape, one of the ministers also accused of rape and many accusations of corruption.”
Stressing the importance of mutual trust and recognition to find a lasting solution to the ongoing sanguinary crisis, Morgantini called the international community “to recognise the democratically elected government of Palestine and to support the efforts made by all Palestinian political forces and President Mahoumud Abbas in their efforts to stop Palestinian militia groups firing rockets on Israeli towns and people.”
Accepting the fact that there are elements in Palestinian society that need taming she said, “Launching rockets is an criminal act on civilian population but the Israelis are responding to these acts through collective punishment, killing children, families, destroying homes and above all putting Palestinians in the jails.”
The Palestinian elections were held in a free and fair democratic manner and the outcome must be respected by law-abiding democratic governments argued Morgantini saying, “After 40 years the occupation continues, we have been talking about a two-state two-people solution since 1980 and we still have not even recognised a democratically-elected Palestinian government,” she said, calling for the EU to “show that it truly believes in international law.”
About the upcoming Quartet meeting, MEP said, “The real player in Middle East is United States. If it’s true what Condoleezza Rice is saying now that Palestinian state should exist along with Israel, then I am sure that Israeli government will accept and start to discuss seriously on negotiations.” “Normally Israelis say that there is no partner on Palestinian side for peace talks but as a matter of fact, President Abbas has been elected by the Palestinians on a clear platform: no violence, Palestinian state and peace with Israel. So Abbas is quite ready to have negotiations and Palestinian government is ready too now. The only way is to convince the Israeli government that it’s in their interests that they have to make peace.” “Palestinians have a Unity government based on a programme that clearly states that the government recognise agreements signed by PLO with recognition of occupied territories and a cease fire,” she said.
Asked to comment on Israel’s withholding of Palestinian customs duties, Morgantini urged the EU and the Quartet to force Israel to return the funds confiscated from Palestine. MEP lambasted Israel saying, “It is unacceptable that Israel is still withholding Palestinian tax and customs revenues and aggravating the Palestinian humanitarian crisis.” “The funds must be immediately transferred,” she demanded.
She commented, “In the European parliament while discussing Darfur, members are demanding sanctions against Sudanese government. What about sanctions against Israeli government which is violating human rights everyday and there are 11,000 Palestinian prisoners among them 370 children and 200 women?” Saying, “Gaza is a total prison,” Morgantini cited the instance of the border opening with Egypt “for only 74 days out of 365 days last year.”
Morgantini demanded the need for using Article two of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, according to which, in the case of violations of human rights the agreement should be suspended and she pointed that there was “no doubt about the human rights violations committed by the Israeli government.”“Enough is enough,” MEP Morgantini concluded urging the Europeans to step out of “guilt consciousness of the Holocaust,” and step forward for values of “justice and freedom for everyone” and to be “very honest with the Israeli government.”
Written for New Europe, the European Weekly on June 9, 2007 - Issue : 733
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