Sunday, 17 January 2010

60-member European Parliamentary Delegation to Gaza

60- member strong European
Parliamentary Delegation to Gaza

M.H. Sarkar

“It’s a very strong delegation. It consists of 60 people; most of them parliamentarians from the Parliament of the United Kingdom – House of Commons and House of Lords, but also MEPs from thirteen countries in Europe and in addition to that, some members of the devolved Members from Scotland and Wales as well,” said Sir Gerald Bernard Kaufman, leader of the European Parliamentary Delegation, while opening the press conference on Wednesday, the 13th of January 2010 at the Portcullis House, Westminster, London. The delegation left on Thursday to Egypt and then to Gaza and is supposed to be back on Monday, 18th January, 2010.

He also said, “It is an extremely strong delegation. This is not just of one of the demonstrations but part of a strong campaign to bring justice to the people of Palestine and to the people of Gaza alongside secure Israel who, in my opinion, will be a great deal most secure if they recognize their responsibility for dealing with settling this problem.”

The members of the European Parliamentary Delegation, besides others, includes: Nazir Ahmed, House of Lords UK; John Andrew Barrett, British MP; Melika Benarab-Attou, MEP France; Nessa Childers, MEP Ireland; Alyn Edward Smith, MEP-Scotland; Jil Evans, MEP-Wales; Anouar Gharbi, Coordinator of the Swiss Delegation; Robert Goebbels, MEP-Luxembourg; Richard Howitt, MEP-UK; Lynne Jones, British MP; Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP (leader of the delegation); Stefan Liebich, MEP-Germany; Martin Linton, British MP; Colin Mackenzie, House of Lords, UK; Ramona Nicole Manesou, MEP-Romania; Robert Marshall Andrews, British MP; Marisa Matias, MEP-Portugal; Andrew Philips, House of Lords, UK; Niccolo Rinaldi, MEP-Italy; Helmut Scholz, MEP-Germany; Clare Short, British MP; Arafat Shoukri, Chair of the European Campaign to End the Sieze; Alexandra Thein, MEP-Germany; Jennifer Tonge, House of Lords, UK; Derek Vaughan, MEP-UK and Boris Zala, MEP-Slovakia

Dr. Arafat Shouki, the Chair of the European Campaign to End the Sieze, gave the details of the programme. Dr. Shoukri said, “It is an umbrella body of 30 NGOs across Europe. It was established two years ago as a response to the seize of Gaza. We sent two convoys and also other means to send parliamentarians to Gaza to see in their own eyes and have first hand knowledge of the situation there. We believe the parliamentarians, policy makers have to go there and have first hand experience of the situation and find out the realities the Palestinian people are living under on daily basis.”

Dr Shukri also said, “We believe also Europe has a great role to play. Europe should not be acting like a charity sending money and material aid. They have to work on the political front. It is a political entity and what’s happening in Gaza is not a natural disaster. It is a human-made disaster and it is an occupation disaster and this is why the solution for this should be political by putting pressure on Israel to leave the siege of Gaza.”
In this context, it is 60 people most of them Parliamentarians, 17 of them are from the European Parliaments and 11/12 are from the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom – House of Commons and House of Lords - and others from 12 European countries, said dr. Shoukri.

Dr. Shoukri also mentioned the programme. The delegation will travel to Gaza tomorrow, Thursday, 15th of January, 2010, to Egypt. The programme includes meetings with the Egyptian officials, Egyptian Foreign Minister, Speaker of the Egyptian House and also the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. In terms of the meetings in Gaza, the delegation will be meeting with PLC members there from all parties. The delegation will have meeting with NGOs, meeting with UNRWA officials. “More importantly meeting with the people of Gaza, we will see them in their destroyed houses, hospitals, schools and this is not the end of the story, actually it is the beginning, we have to go back and continue our efforts to lobby policy makers in Europe to do something more meaningful, something more serious about the situation in Gaza,” said Dr. Shoukri.

The members of the delegation, such as Clare Short, British MP, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Peer of House of Lords, Lord Colin Mackenzie, Peer of House of Lords, UK; Richard Howitt MEP, Labour European Office, Baroness Jennifer Tonge, Peer of the House of Lords from the Liberal Democrat and Jeremy Corbyn, British MP spoke at the press conference.

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