Israeli Prison Raid: some European Condemnation
Yahoo News: European reaction to Israel's raid.
STRASBOURG (AFP) - European parliamentarians roundly criticised Israel for an army raid on a West Bank prison which forced Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas to cut short his visit to Europe.
Deprived of a long-awaited address by Abbas, whose impoverished Palestinian territories receive vast amounts of EU aid, the deputies condemned the attack and the wave of revenge kidnappings it fuelled.
Party group leaders and even the president of the assembly, Josep Borrell, condemned the action and questioned whether it had really helped Israel or if it was a ploy ahead of the elections on March 28.
"It was a useless and unfair military operation. How could an operation of this kind, with its humiliating images, reinforce Israel's security?" he said. [my emphasis]
"The future of this region has been sacrificed," said Greens bloc leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit for a "tactical manouevre" motivated by the general elections.
"If this is what Israel's domestic political goals are, it will be fatal," said the head of the Socialist group, Martin Schulz.
Others said that Israel's actions on Tuesday, which netted people wanted for killing a cabinet minister, had undermined the authority of the relatively moderate Abbas as the militant group Hamas tries to form a new government.
"The fact that he had to return home early illustrates even more the gravity of this new and deliberately humiliating Israeli escalation in Palestine and its sadly predictable consequences, like the unacceptable abductions," the parliament's United Left/Nordic Green Left group said in a statement. [my emphasis]
"Will the Union once again fail to react to this torpedo on peace which as usual will weaken those Palestinians who seek a peaceful solution the most, starting with Mahmud Abbas himself?" [my emphasis]
The EU provides around 500 million euros (600 million dollars) each year to the Palestinians. Around half is provided individually by the Union's 25 member states, while the other half comes from the European Commission.
But the election victory by Hamas, which figures on the EU's list of terrorist groups and refuses to recognise Israel, has left the Union in a dilemma about how to help meet needy Palestinians.
For the moment, it has released 120 million euros to ensure electricity and water supplies, provide emergency relief and pay the salaries of public servants to help stabilise the finances of the caretaker government.
However all the money must be spent before the new cabinet takes office.
European deputies and officials were keen to talk to Abbas, whose outgoing Palestinian Authority has been left virtually bankrupt by Israeli sanctions imposed after the Hamas victory, to hear his recommendations for the future.
The Israeli army raid in the normally sleepy West Bank town came shortly after British and American monitors posted in Jericho were withdrawn because of what their governments said were safety fears.
Conservative deputy Elmar Brok said the international community and in particular the Middle East Quartet of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, had been compromised by the action.
"The Palestinians are in danger of losing confidence in the West after the withdrawal of the Americans and the British," he said.
Other EU officials were more restrained.
Senior Austrian foreign official Hans Winkler, whose country holds the EU presidency, called on both sides to "show restraint", while EU commission President Jose Manuel Barroso condemned "all forms of violence, whatever its origin."
Abbas told Borrell that he would try to attend the European Parliament's next session in Strasbourg at the beginning of April.
Keywords: Israel, Palestine, Saadat, Palestinian Authority