UK Party Calls for Suspending EU-Israel Agreement
The European Union should use today's emergency meeting of foreign ministers to suspend a new co-operation agreement between the EU and Israel, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has said.
The proposed agreement, due to be voted on in the European Parliament next month, would give Israel access to EU funding programmes which in some areas are only enjoyed by full members of the EU.
Commenting, Nick Clegg said:
"The continuing bombardment of Gaza is intolerable and self-defeating. It goes far beyond Israel's right to defend itself.
"There is not a terrorist organisation in the world that has been bombed into submission. Innocent people are being killed and injured by a military operation that will only serve to further inflame extremism, and weaken the moderate Palestinian and Arab opinion which Israel's long term security depends on.
"Who will Israel negotiate with in future when its own actions are pushing more and more Palestinians into the arms of extremists?
"With the US Administration hobbled by the transition between Presidents, it is time for the EU to act. The EU has enormous potential leverage in the Middle East as the major donor of aid to the Palestinian community and the main market for Israeli exports.
"Yet for too long the EU has been an economic giant which acts as a political pygmy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EU Foreign Ministers have the chance this evening for once to take action and not just issue words.
"EU Foreign Ministers must immediately suspend the proposed new agreement with Israel. The deal cannot proceed until there is a transformation of the conditions on the ground in Gaza.
"EU Foreign Ministers must also reiterate to Hamas that their rocket attacks are equally self defeating and unacceptable. They should make clear that they would be prepared to talk to Hamas but only if it permanently renounces terrorist violence. Only then would the EU be in a position to support a unified Palestinian leadership covering both Gaza and the West Bank, an essential ingredient for any lasting peace."