Question of Palestine home
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23 May 2007
Key points of Plenary session: 21-24 May
Debate on Palestine: support for Unity Government
All sides of the House expressed grave concern at the events unfolding in the occupied Palestinian territories, which were recently visited by a delegation of MEPs.
Spanish MEP José Ignacio Salafranca of the European People's Party and European Democrats (EPP-ED) called the situation a "grave crisis", stating his view that the "Government of national unity is the Palestinians' main hope". He called for the EU to "shake off its lethargy and take a step in the right direction" and to support Solana's mission to Lebanon. What is needed, he said, is some "common sense" in a "barbaric" situation.
Italian Socialist Pasqualina stressed the urgent need to change EU policy - to restore financial assistance to Palestinian territories and to engage with Hamas ministers. She also criticised what she described as "disproportionate retaliation" by Israel.
For the Liberal ALDE Group Chris Davies focused his criticism on Israeli actions. He spoke of "10,000 Palestinian prisoners", and said: "We seem to ignore every Israeli illegality but expect the Palestinians to behave like saints. " He stressed, as did Caroline Lucas (Greens-EFA, UK) that Parliament's recent delegation had concluded that the Palestinian Unity Government had met the requirements of the international community.
Others, notably Czech member Jana Hybášková (EPP-ED), emphasised homemade Palestinian problems and criticised what she described as naivety in believing that peace could be brought to the region by dealing with known extremist organisations in Palestine. The aim should be a viable democratic Palestinian state, recognising Israel, she said.
For the Union for Europe of the Nations Group Ryszard Czarnecki stressed the need to eliminate hate-filled messages from educational textbooks.
Speaking for the Council and the German Presidency Günter Gloser, Minister of State for Europe said that the Palestinian National Unity Government had still not passed the "litmus test" of the Quartet (the US, Russia, the EU and the UN): Namely that it had not fully renounced violence.
He did however, point to some points of optimism namely that the EU has good contact with Palestinian Finance and Foreign Ministers and that in May the Arab League endorsed the 2002 Saudi peace offer. This envisages Israel returning to its 1967 borders in return for peace treaties, recognition and the return of Palestinian refugees.