EU sanctions on Hamas and Israel 'no longer taboo', says S&D leader
S&D group chair Gianni Pittella has called on EU council president Herman Van Rompuy to hold an extraordinary council meeting in the wake of another missile strike outside a UN school in Gaza.
The incident in which at least 10 civilians are believed to have died came just days after another UN shelter was hit, killing 16 people, and after an attempted 72-hour ceasefire collapsed almost immediately.
Commenting on the declining situation between Israel and Hamas, Pittella said, "We demand an extraordinary meeting of the European council to be held as soon as possible to discuss the EU strategy vis-à-vis the Gaza conflict.
"The European Union should take concrete measures in order to stop the war going on in this region, including the adoption of an arms embargo.
"Sanctions can no longer be considered taboo but as a possible means of putting pressure on both the Hamas and Israel sides in order to stop civilian casualties," argued the S&D MEP.
"Sanctions can no longer be considered taboo but as a possible means of putting pressure on both the Hamas and Israel sides in order to stop civilian casualties" - Gianni Pitella
"The situation in Gaza is becoming unsustainable," he said, adding, "Humanitarian conditions are deteriorating. Public resentment against this conflict has reached the streets of European cities, with the risk of more riots and protests."
The Italian deputy continued, "The European Union should play a proactive role in the peace process and work immediately for a United Nations resolution to establish a humanitarian corridor along the Gaza Strip in order to get aid to civilians.
"It is time to act before it is too late. Business as usual is no longer acceptable," he concluded.
Van Rompuy, along with European commission president José Manuel Barroso, issued a joint statement on Sunday strongly condemning the continuing crisis.
They said, "Gaza has been suffering from intolerable violence for more than three weeks already. We deplore the terrible loss of lives, including innocent women and children.
"Gaza has been suffering from intolerable violence for more than three weeks already. We deplore the terrible loss of lives, including innocent women and children" - Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso
"Many have been injured, property and livelihoods have been destroyed. This needs to stop immediately.
"We strongly condemn continued rocket fire over Israel. It constitutes an unacceptable threat to its citizens. Israel has the right to live in peace in its recognised borders," they stressed.
The pair explained, "Legitimate defence needs to maintain proportionality. We have all seen these cycles in the past and we know that there are limits regarding what military operations can achieve.
"Only a negotiated solution, based on two states, living side by side and respectful of each other, will bring lasting peace," they said.
"The bloodshed needs to stop," they urged, "Today we join our voice to those of the secretary general of the United Nations and other international leaders that are calling on both sides to put an end to hostilities.
"We are ready to support actively negotiations, confidence building measures, reconstruction and reconciliation efforts.
"No more lives should be wasted. Palestinian and Israeli leaders need to exercise courage by putting an end to this senseless violence.
"They also need to exercise courage and wisdom to move beyond these cycles of violence and advance towards arrangements that will ensure peaceful and dignified coexistence, based on mutual respect," the statement concluded.
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