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de Brún calls from Palestine on EU and US to demand an end to Gaza siege

1 March, 2009 - by Martina Anderson MEP

In advance of tomorrow's (2 March) Sharm El Sheikh Conference for Gaza reconstruction and support for the Palestinian economy, Bairbre de Brun MEP has called on the EU and US to demand that the border crossings at Gaza be opened and that free movement be allowed into and out of Gaza. She stressed that without an end to the siege of Gaza reconstruction would not be possible.

Speaking from Palestine where she is part of a cross-party delegation of MEPs who are meeting political figures, community organisations, human rights organisations and international agencies, Ms de Brun said:

"Our cross party group of MEPs has seen for ourselves the terrible destruction that has resulted from the recent Israeli assault on Gaza. Homes and businesses have been destroyed, schools, hospitals and ambulances attacked and Gaza has been left without the basic civilian infrastructure needed to sustain life. The vast majority of the population has now become dependent on food aid. Those we have met have told us how they want to get back to providing for themselves. They do not want to be forever dependent on international agencies for emergency aid.

"In order to rebuild their lives they need to be able to travel freely in and out of Gaza, to import materials needed to rebuild businesses and to export the goods they produce once they get back on their feet. None of this is possible if the present restrictions on the movement of people and goods are not lifted.

"One businessman even went so far as to suggest that if the border crossings are not open the international donors would be better off giving the money to Darfur or Somalia because it would not have the intended effect in Gaza. People are also fearful that Israel will carry out further attacks.

"At the Sharm El Sheikh conference for Gaza reconstruction, the EU and US must call for the crossings to be opened, and for the free movement of people and goods. They must also press the Israeli government for a commitment that the destuction and loss of life we have just witnessed will not happen again."

Ms de Brun also welcomed the agreement by 14 Palestinian parties to start an intensive dialogue with a view to forming a Government of Unity for Palestine. Five committees with representatives of all the 14 groups will meet from 10 March to try and agree by the end of March on steps to form a government of consensus, to have new elections, to have a unified, independent and professional Palestinian security force and to reach reconciliation to overcome bitter intra Palestinian divisions.

Ms de Brun said: "We in Ireland learned the benefit of having a broad alliance of people from a variety of political approaches in an effort to promote a viable peace process. I welcome the start of dialogue towards forming a government of consensus in Palestine. I wish the working committees that have been formed every success in their work" ENDS

Note to Editor

Upon her return from Gaza, Bairbre de Brun will speak about her experiences
at an event in the Culturlann next Thursday, 5 March, beginning at 6.30p.m.

A representative from the Irish Medical Aid for Palestine (Irish MAP) charity, Dr. Saeb Sha'ath,
who is from Gaza, will also speak at the event at which money raised by Sinn Fein activists

to provide urgent medical supplies in Gaza will be officially handed over.

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