Martina Anderson said:
“As part of its mandate the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine, which I chair, travelled to the region yesterday on a four day fact-finding mission in the West Bank and Gaza.
“But we have been informed by Israeli authorities that the Delegation will not be permitted to proceed to Gaza, and will for the fourth time in two years be denied access.
“EU support to the Palestinians amounts to 300 million euros per annum.
“The purpose of the delegation’s visit is to assess the situation on the ground and the impact EU policies and assistance programmes are having on the lives of Palestinians.
“Despite stating clearly that the remit of this delegation has a purely social, economic and humanitarian focus, we continue to be blocked.
“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the Israeli authorities’ decision to deny this delegation access to Gaza for the fourth time.
“It is unacceptable that an official EU delegation to Palestine is refused entry to assess the humanitarian situation and the destruction in Gaza. Since the EU is the largest contributor of finance to Palestinians it is time the EU took steps to insist its delegations are allowed unhindered access to the region.
“These blatant attempts to deter us from our responsibilities to monitor the impact of EU funding in the Region should not be allowed to go unchallenged. The European authorities must leave Israel under no illusions that there will be repercussions if it insists on blocking access to Gaza by the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine.
“If Israel thinks that blocking EU-accredited International delegations from visiting Gaza that its illegal demolitions of EU-funded structures and other acts of oppression will be hidden from the wider world then it is seriously mistaken. It will only strengthen our resolve to expose what can only be described as Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people.” CRÍOCH/END