On the situation on the Gaza Strip

European Parliament resolution on the situation in the Gaza Strip  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Middle East, in particular those of 16 November 2006 on the situation in the Gaza Strip, 12 July 2007 on the Middle East, 11 October 2007 on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and 21 February 2008 on the situation in the Gaza Strip,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1860 (8 January 2009),

–  having regard to the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949),

–  having regard to the statement by the European Union of 30 December 2008 on the situation in the placeMiddle East,

–  having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas on 27 December 2009 Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza in response to the repeated Hamas rocket attacks in the south of Israel, as a means of self-defence and in order to ensure its security at its southern borders,

B.  whereas Hamas has continued to refuse to recognise the state of Israel, and has therefore been a serious obstacle for the peace process in the Middle East; whereas Hamas unilaterally decided to break the truce, despite repeated calls and opposing advice from Arab countries, creating further risk and danger for the Israeli population along the southern border; whereas Hamas took complete control of the Gaza Strip through the use of violence and force in June 2007, killing numerous Al Fatah members and supporters; whereas Hamas is still on the Council’s blacklist of international groups charged with terrorist activity,

C.  whereas according to the latest reports the Israeli operation has claimed large numbers of victims in Gaza, most of them children and women, and has led to casualties and the destruction of houses, schools and other important civilian infrastructures,

D.  whereas the border crossings in and out of Gaza have been closed for eighteen months and the embargo on the movement of people and goods has affected the daily life of the inhabitants and further paralysed the economy in the strip, and this policy of isolation of the Gaza Strip has failed both at the political and the humanitarian level,

E.   whereas the European Union, through its considerable financial support for the Palestinians, has played an important role in avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; whereas the EU continues to provide, also through UNWRA, humanitarian assistance to the people and direct subsidies to employees of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip, through the PEGASE EU financing mechanism and other international assistance to the Palestinian territories,

F.  whereas the decision of 7 January 2009 by the Israeli political leadership to refrain from fire throughout Gaza City for a period of three hours per day has provided a ‘humanitarian corridor’ for the people of the city, but cannot be considered a serious step towards a ceasefire,

G.  whereas the activities of radical teachers and ideologists related to Muslim fraternities remains a major internal source of radicalism among the Palestinian population in placeCityGaza,

1.  Expresses its deepest concern at the escalation of the crisis in the Gaza Strip; recognises the role and responsibilities of Hamas, which has always opposed the peace process, but expresses its preoccupation over the continuing military escalation which is claiming hundreds of victims, most of them civilians and including large numbers of children and women; expresses its solidarity with the innocent civilian population affected by the violence in Gaza and in southern Israel;

2.  Stresses the shared responsibility of Hamas, which has breached a six-month ceasefire and is continuing its attacks on the Israeli civilian population, and must therefore be considered accountable for the current tragic plight of the Palestinian civilian population;

3.  Calls for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and for a further truce, to be guaranteed by a mechanism to be set up by the international community providing for the dispatching of a multinational security force as part of an overall political objective aimed at ensuring mutual trust and equal security for Israel and the Palestinians;

4.  Calls on all parties to make every effort to resume and intensify the peace process with a view to a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine as two sovereign states within secure borders; calls on Israel, in this respect, to fulfil its obligations under international law and international humanitarian law; calls on Hamas to end its rocket attacks and to assume its responsibilities by committing itself to a political process aimed at restoring inter-Palestinian dialogue and at contributing to the ongoing negotiations;

5.  Welcomes the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1860 of 8 January 2009 and, despite the lack of a commitment for its implementation by both sides, calls on all parties to fully respect its provisions, and invites the Council and the EU Member States to exert diplomatic pressure in order to halt the ongoing violence,

6.   Agrees on the necessity of urgently providing arrangements and guarantees in Gaza as demanded by UNSC Resolution 1860, in order to sustain a durable ceasefire, including the sustained reopening of the crossing points, and prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition;

7.  Strongly requests the Israeli authorities to allow food, urgent medical aid and fuel to be delivered to the Gaza Strip through the opening of the crossing point and the lifting of the blockade, and to guarantee a continuous and sufficient flow of aid through the humanitarian corridor in Rafah; urges the Israeli authorities to allow the international press to follow events on the ground;

8.   Considers that the immediate resumption of the Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) and of the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing (APRC), concluded in September 2005 by Israel and the Palestinian Authority after Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, must be guaranteed without any restriction, and calls on the Council to resume the EU monitoring mission at Rafah;

9.  Reaffirms that there is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and considers that it is time for a lasting and comprehensive peace agreement on the basis of the negotiations that have been conducted until now by both sides;

10.  Calls for an International Conference, to be promoted by the Quartet with the participation of all regional actors, on the basis of the previous agreement reached between Israelis and Palestinians and the Arab League initiative;

11.  Stresses the key importance of renewing the efforts for inter-Palestinian reconciliation, and underlines, in this respect, the need for a permanent geographical connection and a peaceful and lasting political reunification of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the leadership of the legitimate President, Mahmoud Abbas;

12.  Is concerned at the serious consequences of the resurgence of conflict for political prospects in the region, and stresses that this grave tension risks damaging understanding and dialogue between all communities in Europe;

13.  Calls on the EU to play a stronger and united political role, and invites the Council to take the opportunity to cooperate with the new US Administration in order to put an end to the conflict with an agreement based on the ‘two states’ solution, giving Israelis and Palestinians the possibility of living in peace side by side within secure and internationally recognised borders and aiming at building a new peaceful regional security structure in the Middle East;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the Quartet Envoy to the Middle East, the President of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Israeli Government, the Knesset, and the Government and Parliament of Egypt.