Wednesday, February 04, 2009
15:30 Mecca time, 12:30 GMT
Abbas: 90,000 Gazans left homeless
Abbas told the European parliament that Israel
should not be allowed to act 'above the law' At
least 90,000 Palestinians have lost their homes as a result of Israel's
war on Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has told the
European parliament in France.
Abbas told politicians gathered in Strasbourg on Wednesday that
Israeli blockades and illegal settlement expansion have continued, and
called for Israel to answer for its activities. "We should no longer deal with
Israel as a state above the law, above all accountability, above international
law," Abbas said.
"We should put an end to this policy. Israeli leaders should be held
accountable for their violations of international and humanitarian
law," he added, to applause from European parliament members.
Abbas' speech came shortly after he held talks with the president of the
The Palestinian president, who also leads the Fatah party, met Hans
Gert Pottering to discuss Palestinian reconciliation, the crisis in
Gaza and the Middle East peace process.
Abbas' visit to Strasbourg is part of a European tour which will include visits
to Britain, Italy, Turkey and Poland.
"It is no longer acceptable to negotiate on the principle on ending
the occupation. Negotiations must end the occupation of all the land
occupied in 1967," Abbas told the European parliament
cannot go back to negotiating on minor issues when the core issue is
absent - and when 11,000 Palestinians remain imprisoned by Israel.
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"What is needed is not just reconstruction in Gaza but also the reconstruction
of the peace process."
Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the West Bank, said that
Abbas described the Israeli war on Gaza as part of a sustained policy
"The Palestinian president said there was no difference between
Israel's war on Gaza and what is going on the occupied West Bank, vis a
vis Israeli actions," she said from Ramallah.
"He said there is no difference between Israeli settlement activity
and the separation wall [between Israel and the Palestinian
territories] and the almost 700 Israeli checkpoints that dissect the
"Both are part of the same war on Palestinian aspirations, the president told
the European parliament."
More than 1,300 Palestinians, at least a third of them women and
children, were killed during Israel's 22-day war on Gaza. Thirteen
Israelis died during the offensive.
Israel's stated aim for its military campaign was to prevent rocket
attacks towards Israel by fighters loyal to Hamas, which has had de
facto control of Gaza since routing Fatah forces in June 2006.
Palestinians and international aid organisations have said that the
war on Gaza amounted to collective punishment of all Palestinians.
As Abbas spoke in Strasbourg, Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime
minister, told the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah that Fatah
and Hamas must reach common ground and work towards a national unity
"Israel has capitalised on this division [between Fatah and
Hamas] to turn the West Bank, including Jerusalem, into a common ground
for its [own] activities - to create isolated cantons in the West Bank
and to keep the West Bank as separate entities," he said.
Fayyad also unveiled a package of PA measures to address Gaza's immediate
The authority has devised an emergency plan, worth $600m of mostly donated
money, to repair and rebuild all damaged buildings.
Fayyad also proposed that $50m should be issued to the United
Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza so that emergency aid can be
More than $11m has been paid by the Palestinian Authority to fix the
territory's electricity grid and provide generators, while $6m will go
to repair water and sewage networks.
Dedicated support for Gaza's health and agricultural sectors should be a top
priority, he said.
Fayyad also called for increased efforts on co-ordination with
international relief agencies in order to keep up the flow of
humanitarian aid to Gaza, and said that the PA will continue to
pressure Israel to open Gaza's border crossings to allow aid in to the
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
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