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European Union must get to grips with crisis situation in Gaza - Bairbre de Brún

29 June, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning called upon the European Union to respond clearly and definitively to the current Israeli incursions into Palestine. Ms de Brún called on the EU to "show the world that it opposes the collective punishment of the Palestinian people".

Ms de Brún made here comments in light of the overnight arrest of Hamas Ministers and MPs and the massing of the Israeli Army on the Palestine border.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"This current situation grows more serious by the day and has the potential to spiral out of control. History tells us that those who will suffer most from such a scenario will be the civilian populations of the West Bank and Gaza.

"The situation within Palestine was precarious even before this latest crisis with food and medical shortages widely reported. These latest Israeli incursions can only compound this suffering.

"The European Union can take a number of initiatives to influence this situation. The immediate restoration of both US and EU funding to the Palestinian Authority is required so that the economic situation does not further deteriorate. Secondly, in light of the latest collective punishment against Palestinians, the EU should suspend its preferential trade agreement with Israel. The EU-Israel Association Agreement grants Israel favourable trading terms with the EU. This agreement includes a clause, which states that the agreement is based on respect for human rights and democratic principles.

"The international community, including the EU, is an integral part of the Middle East Peace Process and must therefore take decisive action to show that it is opposed to such Israeli aggression. Both myself and my colleagues will be arguing that these matters are debated with extreme urgency at the European Parliament in Strasbourg next week, leading to a strong response from both the European Parliament and the other European institutions." ENDS

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