Emile Roemer: Ceasefire in Gaza

26 July 2014

Emile Roemer: Ceasefire in Gaza

Numbers and statistics are often misleading. They’re cold and bald, in contrast to the stories which lie hidden behind them. In Gaza, at the time of writing, more than 800 people have been killed in illegal attacks and air raids conducted by the Israeli armed forces on Palestinian territory.

By far the majority of the victims are not militants who are taking potshots at Israel with missiles, but innocent civilians, ordinary people who, just like you and I, simply want to live a pleasant life in peace. There are almost two-hundred children amongst them, killed by rockets which fell on the places where they felt themselves to be safe, on their homes or schools.

Victims have fallen on the other side too, a few civilians and dozens of soldiers who were invading Gaza. In 2011 I was in Sderot, a small town in Israel, where rockets from Gaza fall frequently. These people too live in continual fear that someday such a rocket will hit their house. If both sides do not give up their violence, they too will be denied a normal life.

At the moment a temporary truce of twelve hours has been agreed. I hope that this can be the start of a lasting armistice, a long period of peace for both sides. Only then can we begin to work on a real solution, a two-state solution and thus an end to the illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestine. Only then will a viable Palestinian state be possible and only then can Israel live within secure borders.

I believe that the European Union must take much more initiative in helping to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The Americans on their own have been unable to get the warring parties to lay down their weapons. Support from European countries could hopefully make that happen.

If meetings are once again held over the next few days, the European Union must be there. The EU has Association Agreements, in which respect for human rights is listed as a condition, with both Israel and Palestine. It’s high time that we held to these ourselves; the bloodletting could then be brought to an end and a permanent solution to this terrible conflict sought.

Emile Roemer is leader of the SP

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