Foreign Minister must condemn Israeli sanctions against Gaza

21 January 2008

Foreign Minister must condemn Israeli sanctions against Gaza

SP Member of Parliament and spokesman on foreign affairs Harry van Bommel is urging Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen to make clear to the Israeli ambassador the Dutch government's displeasure at the cutting off of fuel supplies to Gaza. The embargo has led to the shutting down of the power station supplying a major part of the population with electricity. Daily life has ground to a halt, while hospitals face major problems and the UN is warning of a humanitarian crisis.

Harry van BommelIsrael cut off deliveries of diesel fuel in reaction to rocket attacks by militant Palestinian factions on the Israeli border town of Sderot. “These attacks must stop," says Van Bommel, "but the collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza is unacceptable. I am asking the minister to let the Israeli ambassador know immediately that the government condemns these actions.”

The Gaza strip has long suffered under Israel's punitive economic and military measures. The area has become an open air prison, in fact. Continual rocket attacks by Israeli armed forces have taken place, in an attempt to dislodge local leaders. These attacks have killed dozens of civilians in the last few weeks alone."

Since the meetings between President Bush, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas a few weeks ago, Israeli pressure on the Gaza strip has increased. This is weakening the position of President Abbas, who is supposed to be trying, in the next year, to reach an agreement with Israel over a Palestinian state. This is the Netherlands' position, to support the establishment of such a state.

“It is with good reason that UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon is warning of a humanitarian crisis," Van Bommel says. The population of Gaza is being reduced to absolute poverty, most of them dependent on emergency aid from the UN. Now that essential services are also being closed down, the suffering of the people is increasing and that in turn will increase the pressures which lead to political radicalisation. This is a totally undesirable chain of developments, one which is to no-one's advantage. Verhagen must, therefore, make it clear where the Netherlands stands by condemning Israel's actions.”

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