Palestinians urge Europe to increase involvement in Middle East crisis

28 May 2018

Palestinians urge Europe to increase involvement in Middle East crisis

Foto: coolloud

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki last week paid an official visit to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The minister is urging the Court, of which Palestine is a member, to investigate whether Israel is guilty of human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories which it occupies. This is a grave request.

- By Tiny Kox

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told me in the past of his country's intention to approach the ICC for this purpose, but until now it had refrained from doing so, in part because the United States had asked the Palestinian government in no uncertain terms not to take such a step. However, now that the Americans have abandoned their 'peacemaker' role in the Middle East and are instead standing four-square behind Israel, while Israel itself is refusing to enter into honest and meaningful peace negotiations, the Palestinians are using their right to involve the International Criminal Court. Clearly, the immediate reason for the move is the shooting down of unarmed demonstrators in the Gaza strip, which the United European Left (UEL), the political group which I chair in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has condemned in the strongest possible terms. In response to our declaration of solidarity, I received the following letter from Professor Bernard Sabella of the Palestinian delegation to PACE:

Dear Tiny, It is indeed a sad day that left all of us shocked and disbelieving the way Israeli decision makers have decided to deal with the peaceful protests. It breaks our hearts as we have been calling for so long for the restart of a genuine political process that would see to it that our Palestinian people would at last have justice and could celebrate the Palestinian state. We remain committed to a peaceful negotiated settlement. With all the pain we feel nowadays, we are hoping that the tragic developments of recent days will impress not only on European decision makers but also on American and Israeli ones that without a negotiated just political solution, tragic events of this kind and insistence of the Israeli occupying forces to use force and exaggerated overkill tactics to face unarmed protesters would only exasperate the situation. We call on the European States and their decision makers to put the Palestinian question as a top priority and to make their weight felt in their relations with both Israel and the US administration in order to see to it that a genuine peace process is made possible. So far, we feel in Palestine that with all the nice and consoling talk of Europe, States in the Old Continent are not doing enough to bring peace any closer to Palestinians and also to Israelis. What the marches of return from Gaza and East Jerusalem and West Bank are saying is that we Palestinians cannot go on the way things are at present; we need and want peace, we want to be free and we want to live as normal people and not as targeted people to Israeli snipers. We seek a genuine honest and lasting peace and we want to go back and be absorbed with the needs of our people to education, health care and economic prosperity and we want to live at peace with ourselves and with all of our neighbors. We look for an end to occupation and for us this is not possible without a serious role undertaken by Europe and the other states that care to have peace and stability in our region. Thank you for your message of solidarity and friendship.

In response to the Palestinian approach to the ICC, Israel is now crying blue murder, but in my view they have brought this on themselves. It will be interesting to see how the ICC deals with the request. In the meantime I will continue to urge the European Union to begin to play a more active role. We pay large amounts of money to both Palestine and Israel so, as President Abbas has repeatedly told me, it's time that Europe also began to contribute to a durable solution to a conflict which has already gone on for far too long.

Tiny Kox is a Senator for the SP, and president of the United European Left political group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe


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