EU’s role is to save Israel and Palestine from extremism
During a two-day mission to Israel and Palestine, S&D Group president Gianni Pittella met with a series of high-level politicians including Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israel Labour Party chairman Isaac Herzog, Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah, chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and foreign minister Riad al-Malki.
The S&D delegation to Israel and Palestine was composed by President of the Group Gianni Pittella, Vice-President Victor Boştinaru, and Elena Valenciano, Chairwomen of the EP Sub-committee on Human Rights.
Commenting on his talks in the region, Gianni Pittella said:
“EU wake up! We came to Israel and Palestine to stress that the time has come for Europe to play a genuine political role in the region.
“Our role in the EU is to ensure that the peace process is not taken hostage by extremist attitudes, such as those of Hamas.
“At the same time, we are shocked at the announcements from the Israeli government about building new settlement units and expropriating Palestinian land. This policy can only create more extremism.
“The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has to be respected and allowing full access for humanitarian aid to Gaza must be an immediate priority.
“There is no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without lifting the blockade on Gaza, which is currently an open-air prison for 1.7 million people. In this context, we also urge the Israeli authorities to allow European Parliament delegations to visit Gaza.
“We strongly support and encourage the efforts of the Palestinian consensus government to take over authority in Gaza, in order to isolate extremists. There is no doubt that Gaza must be part of the future Palestinian state.
“In this spirit, we also welcome the ongoing co-operation between the Israeli and Palestinian governments.
“We continue to support President Abbas’ policy of peaceful resistance and national unity.
“The release of all Palestinian political prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti, would be a major contribution to peace efforts.
Gianni Pittella concluded by looking ahead to the future work of the newly-appointed High representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini:
“Europe cannot wait longer – we are confident that the new EU High representative, Federica Mogherini, will transform the EU into a leading player in the region. The Middle East peace process needs us.”