Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has just completed a three day fact finding mission as part of an EU delegation to the Palestinian Territories where they met with Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Minister for Detainees Issa Qarage among others and called for Palestinian elections and EU Action to Accelerate an end to the Israeli Occupation
Speaking from the West Bank today prior to her return Martina Anderson said:
“As a Member of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council I have just concluded a three-day visit to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, following the Israeli authority’s refusal to allow us entry to Gaza.
“During a packed schedule of events we met with Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, the Minister for Detainees, Issa Qaraqe and Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. The Delegation also travelled the region with representatives from civil society, UN Agencies for refugees and humanitarian aid, UNRWA and OCHA, and witnessed at first hand the impact of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.”
Echoing the sentiments of the Chair of the Delegation, Emer Costello MEP, who expressed concern that the plight of Palestinians is deteriorating rapidly, Ms Anderson continued:
“From what we have seen, we believe that Israel is ignoring its duty as an occupying power, in breach of the Oslo Accord of 1993. Settlement construction in the Palestinian territories, settler violence against Palestinians and their property, the forcible displacement of communities, the seizure of the most economically productive lands in the West Bank (all adapted from the practice perfected by Britain in her Colonies, including the Plantations in Ireland) and the absence of a fair and transparent planning system are preventing the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, alongside Israel. Moreover, the Israeli occupation is obstructing the development of a sustainable economy in Palestine, making it even further dependent on aid.
“The Delegation also expressed their serious concern at the treatment of the Bedouin Community which is being forcibly removed to pave the way for the massive E1 Settlement, which, if constructed, would render the two states solution impossible. Recognising the necessity for Palestinian unity to achieve a real and lasting solution and an end to the Israeli occupation the delegation called for early elections across the Palestinian territories, including West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
“Along with some members of the Delegation I attended the Homecoming Reception in Ramallah for twenty-six political prisoners and while there was celebration all thoughts and serious concerns remained with the over 5,000 Palestinians still languishing in Israeli prisons. At the same time as the prisoner release, Israeli authorities announced the building of 1500 new illegal settlement units, which questions the genuineness of the Israeli authorities to engage constructively in the peace negotiations.”