Cross Party hearing at the European Parliament marking 15th years of Gaza blockade

On June 14th, a cross party hearing was held at the European Parliament, under the title “15 years of Gaza blockade: what’s the role of the EU?”

Francesca Albanese, recently appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, said that the blockade “is nothing short than settler colonialism” and that “the priority should be first and foremost to put an end to the illegal occupation.”

Michael Lynk, former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, said that Gaza has been transformed into an open-air prison and that Israeli authorities regularly recur to collective punishment, something that is forbidden under international law.

Mona Shtaya, member of 7amleh, The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, draw the attention of the attendees to the growing Israeli surveillance system: the Israeli authorities, she said, “surveil the Palestinian social networks.” Moreover, “bugs are installed on mobile phones to surveil private conversations of the inhabitants of Gaza, making use of techniques of espionage.”

Asmaa Abu Mezied, member of Oxfam in Gaza Strip, said that “the depolitization” of the international aid is part of the problem. “As long as we talk only of assistance without accountability, there will not be any advancement” towards the end of the Gaza blockade, she said.

At the conference Members of the European Parliament and participants received recommendations from civil society and call for actions that include:

  • Respect the legitimate and unalienable rights of self-determination of Palestinian people, including supporting the right to hold national elections.
  • Acknowledge that the situation of the Palestinian people in Gaza is so catastrophic that no conditions can be accepted from the occupying power Israel, for it to lift the blockade.
  • Recall that the blockade has brought no security for either Israel or Palestinians;
  • Demand the government of Israel, the occupying power, to lift the blockade immediately and unconditionally including:

– Unrestricted passage of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank and the rest of the world;

– Removal of the Access Restricted Area and of restrictions on fishing zones;

  • Include these demands as conditions in all agreements in all political, diplomatic, cultural, military and economic relations with Israel. Prepare a mandatory timeframe with verifiable intermediate steps. Adopt the principle of sanctions if the timeframe is not respected.
  • Call on the Egyptian authorities to further facilitate the movement of persons and goods to and from the Gaza Strip, and put an end to any restrictive measures.
  • Establish discussion channels of direct dialogue with all the Palestinian counterparts to facilitate the furthering of the process.
  • There must be a just and sustainable peace for all Israelis and Palestinians. Alleged war crimes committed in each round of violence must be investigated and prosecuted ensuring accountability according to the documented results of investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to the full respect of international laws and the UN recognized mechanisms of recommendations and implementation.

These action points will allow the EU to end its complicity in grave violations of international law, and honour its own commitments and standards.