Parliament recalled to discuss response to Gaza

8 January 2009

Parliament recalled to discuss response to Gaza

An initial refusal of the SP's proposal for a return from recess to discuss the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip with Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has now been reversed. Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs will meet on Friday to debate the matter. SP Foreign Affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel said that he was pleased by the decision: “The Netherlands must condemn this invasion,” he said. “But most importantly it must give no support to the upgrading of the association agreement between the EU and Israel, as recently proposed by the European Commission. This would send completely the wrong message. It is sad that the Dutch government has for the most part had nothing to say about this.”


The original refusal was reversed following Verhagen's proposal that an EU peacekeeping force be sent to supervise the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Parliament is anxious to meet with the Foreign Minister before his trip, planned for next week, to South-East Asia.

Last week Israeli ground troops invaded the Gaza Strip, since which, according to medical organisations, there have been at least seven hundred deaths, while a further three thousand people have been wounded. Most of these were civilians, and more than a quarter were women and children. The SP is urging the Dutch government to condemn excessive Israeli violence, just as it did, correctly, in relation to the persistent violence of Hamas.

“The Netherlands and the EU must be more active in calling for an end to the spiral of violence. We must do more than say that we regret civilian deaths. We should at the very least be trying to get Israel and Hamas to put an end to the bloodshed and prevent further civilian deaths. Immediate negotiations must be established between the warring parties, and the Netherlands and the EU could help to bring this about. Doing nothing in the face of what the UN has described as a catastrophic situation is not an option.”

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