EU must demand ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza

18 July 2014

EU must demand ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza

Yesterday Israel began a large-scale ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. Halfway through the evening, thousands of soldiers crossed the border into Gaza. Infantry and tank units were amongst those involved. In the view of SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, the international community cannot ignore what is becoming a serious escalation of the conflict. 'The EU is an important partner to both Israel and the Palestinians,’ he notes. ‘This involvement means that the EU must demand an immediate ceasefire and Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.'

The incursion into the Gaza Strip takes the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians into a new phase. The invasion of 2008 led to around 1300 Palestinian deaths, many of them civilian, as well as large scale destruction of buildings and infrastructure. ‘The presence of Israel soldiers in the Gaza Strip is unlawful and will lead directly to more violence and more victims,’ says Van Bommel. ‘The sooner these soldiers have gone the better, but for that outside pressure is needed.’

The underlying problem in the conflict is, Van Bommel argues, the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, which make the establishment of a viable Palestinian state impossible. ‘The systematic enlargement of the illegal settlements in the occupied territories has, it’s true, been condemned by the EU, but never punished with sanctions,’ he adds. ‘The SP has for years argued that the EU must use the Association Agreement with Israel to put a stop to the illegal settlement policy.’

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