|Israel's actions in Gaza "fair," says Knesset's Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman |
|Security and defence - 02-10-2007 - 15:05|
MEPs from the Security and Defence Subcommittee debated the security situation in the Middle East with the Israeli Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee Chairman, Tzachi Hanegbi in Brussels on Tuesday. Mr Hanegbi said he looked forward to the November meeting on Middle East peace, and noted that Iran's nuclear ambitions were the most crucial issue for the region as a whole.
Jana Hybaskova (EPP-ED, CZ), who had invited Mr Hanegbi, asked about the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Gaza strip since Israel declared the area a "hostile entity". Mr Hanegbi replied that whilst he did not wish "even one innocent Palestinian to suffer," political pressure needed to be put on Hamas, and, overall, Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip seemed to him to be "fair". Israel does not want a "terrorist state of 'Hamastan' in the middle of [its] heartland", but the Palestinians in Gaza need to understand that putting their trust in organisations such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad is "a mistake", he said.
Middle East peace process
Mr Hanegbi was cautiously optimistic about the next international meeting on the Middle East, to be held by the US in November, saying that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a man committed to peace. He expected core issues such as the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the demarcation of borders to be addressed at the meeting, but said settlements and the final status of Jerusalem would probably have to wait until the next phase of negotiations.
Replying to a question by Ana Gomes (PES, PT) about possible discussions with Syria on the Golan Heights, Mr Hanegbi said Israel is open to direct, bilateral talks, without preconditions. He nevertheless felt that Syrian demands for US mediation between the two sides were simply a ploy to gain international legitimacy at a time when when Syrian involvement in political assassinations in Lebanon is under international scrutiny.