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Projev ministra Schwarzenberga v Evropském parlamentu

 

Projev ministra Schwarzenberga v Evropském parlamentu v rozpravě ke Gaze v Evropském parlamentu dne 14.1.2009 (v angličtině).

Mr President, thank you very much for giving me the floor in this timely debate on the dramatic situation in the Middle East.

Since the start of Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip on 27 December, we have witnessed a steep deterioration of the situation on all levels. The humanitarian consequences of this operation are dramatic for the population in Gaza. Since the start of the operation, over 900 Palestinians have died, of whom roughly 30% were women and children. We are profoundly disturbed by the loss of civilian life, and the matter has been repeatedly declared in our presidential statements. The European Union deplores the ongoing hostilities which have led to such high numbers of civilian casualties, and we want to express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

We are particularly concerned by such incidents as the attack on the United Nations school in Jebaliya and the firing on humanitarian convoys leading to the death of humanitarian staff. Over 4 200 Palestinians have been injured, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. According to the United Nations agency, an estimated 28 000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the hostilities. A large number of them are seeking refuge in the shelters; the rest of the internally displaced people are staying with relatives.

The greatest humanitarian needs are related to the large number of wounded and the overwhelmed health services, whereas displaced people and host families need specific assistance such as food, shelter, water and non-food items. Since the water system was badly damaged and needs urgent repair, the Gaza population has hardly any access to safe water. Therefore, providing drinking water is of the utmost necessity.

There are also extensive food shortages at all levels of the population. Since 4 November last year, foreign NGOs’ personnel have not been allowed access to Gaza to deliver and monitor humanitarian aid properly. Also, the number of trucks entering Gaza has increased since military operations started. The current daily average of 55 trucks remains pitifully insufficient compared to a need for at least 300 trucks daily to cover the needs of the 80% of the population which has become aid-dependent.

The European Union has been closely following the tragic events from the outset. Three days after the operation started, foreign ministers met in an extraordinary session in Paris to discuss the situation. They agreed on the need for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and immediate humanitarian action in stepping up the peace process. The summit aimed mainly to assist in ending violence and alleviating the humanitarian crisis. The presidency led a diplomatic mission in the Middle East. The EU ministerial troika visited the region on 4-6 January for meetings in Egypt, in Israel, with the Palestinian authority, and in Jordan. The High Representative also visited Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

The outlines of a solution to the crisis have started to emerge. First and foremost, there must be an unconditional halt to rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel and an end to Israeli military action, to enable the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and the restoration of public services and badly-needed medical treatment. The six-month ceasefire, which expired on 19 December, was far from perfect. Israel suffered through periodic rocket fire and the knowledge that its foe was amassing greater firepower. Gaza endured a really punishing economic blockade, totally undermining its economic development.

In order to achieve a sustainable ceasefire, we have to look for a sensible compromise entailing an end to rocket launches and reopening of the crossings. A viable solution must address the tunnels across the borders, especially along the Philadelphia route, to prevent the smuggling of weapons. It must also lead to the systematic and controlled opening of all border crossings to enable the Gaza economy to develop.

We believe that the deployment of international missions to monitor implementation of the ceasefire and to act as a liaison between the two sides could be helpful. In this regard, the European Union is ready to return its observers to the Rafah crossing and to extend the mandate of the European border mission in scope and content. We acknowledge that Israel has agreed to a daily lull to allow desperately-needed food, fuel and medicine into Gaza. However, only a full and immediate ceasefire would allow the delivery and distribution of the large quantities of humanitarian aid that Gaza so desperately needs and for the resumption of basic services. Israel must ensure the unhindered and safe access for humanitarian aid and other essential supplies, including food, medicines and fuel, to the Palestinian civilian population of the Gaza Strip, as well as the safe passage of civilian persons and humanitarian personnel into and from the Gaza Strip.

But even a durable and comprehensive solution in Gaza will not be sufficient to install peace in the region. We need to address broader and more complicated challenges. We need a new and inclusive strategy that addresses the internal Palestinian political situation, as well as a resumption of the peace talks which have been suspended due to the Gaza crisis. Palestinian reconciliation, and a government representative of the aspirations of the Palestinian people, is more necessary than ever. We therefore support the mediation effort undertaken by Egypt in accordance with the Arab League’s resolutions of 26 November 2008.

As pointed out in the conclusions of the GAERC in December 2008, the European Union is prepared to support any stable Palestinian government that pursues policies and measures reflecting the Quartet’s principles. The European Union stresses the need to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and calls for the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and the resolving of all outstanding issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including all core issues.

A durable and comprehensive solution will ultimately depend on real progress in the Middle East peace process. Urgent and great efforts by the parties will be needed to achieve a comprehensive peace, based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace, in secure and recognised borders.

The latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East might not only set back prospects of a peaceful settlement in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The political damage the fighting is causing, both in terms of regional polarisation and radicalisation, and in the further discrediting of moderate forces, must not be neglected either. Only a viable Palestinian state will bring security to a region that has suffered for too long. This is especially in the interests of Israel and its neighbours. Therefore, urgent measures must immediately be taken to reverse the damage done by the military action in order to restore the possibility of an equitable negotiated outcome.

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