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Bairbre de Brún welcomes Palestinian President Abbas to European Parliament

12 May, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning welcomed the confirmation that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg this coming Tuesday (16.05.06).

This will be would make the first trip to the European Parliament for President Abbas. A previous planned visit in March was cancelled due to a looming crisis at home when Israeli forces attacked and demolished Jericho Jail. Many believe this was timed to prevent President Abbas from addressing the European parliament in solemn session.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"I look forward to hearing President Abbas‚ address to the European Parliament next week. Unfortunately, Mr Abbas‚ last trip to meet MEPs had to be aborted at the last minute due to an Israeli incursion into the city of Jericho, which resulted in the killing of a guard and the public humiliation and ill-treatment of prisoners.

"The importance of this visit should not be underestimated. At present the Palestinian Authority is facing a severe humanitarian crisis. Following the Hamas election victory at the beginning of the year, both the European Union and the United States have frozen aid payments to the authority.

"No doubt President Abbas will impress upon MEPs the gravity of the situation within Palestine at present. Tens of thousands of public service workers have not been paid for over two months, essential services are beginning to come under severe strain and food and medicine shortages have been reported in the region.

"All of this comes against the backdrop of the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine. Having travelled to Palestine as an election observer, I was able to witness first hand the restrictions which are in place - roadblocks, harassment of voters and candidates and the continued presence of the 'Apartheid Wall'.

"I want to take this opportunity to call upon the European Parliament and Commission to address the funding crisis immediately. We cannot play politics with the lives of the Palestinian people." ENDS

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