Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Gaza: Now two-state talks must start in earnest

22nd November 2012

Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks by Hamas terrorists - but negotiations to create a Palestinian state must now restart, Charles Tannock MEP told an emergency debate on Gaza in the European Parliament.

Dr Tannock, Conservative spokesman on foreign affairs and human rights in the European Parliament, said the bloodshed between Israel and Hamas this week had been an avoidable human tragedy. He welcomed the ceasefire which last night (Wednesday) halted the conflict, but he said the Israeli response had come about directly because of an escalation of rocket attacks launched from Gaza.

The missiles fired into Israel had included longer-range rockets made in Iran and indiscriminate targeting of civilian areas had resulted in five Israeli civilian deaths and huge damage.

Dr Tannock, Conservative MEP for London, said: "Every state has the right to self defence under the UN Charter Art 51, so Israel is fully entitled to seek out all legitimate military targets including rocket-launch sites and ammunition dumps - which it has done on a surgical basis.

"Hamas disgracefully sited its launchers in densely populated civilian areas which makes it guilty of another war crime by putting its civilian population at risk of Israeli bombardment.

"We support a two-state solution based on a viable Palestinian state which includes both Gaza and the West bank, living in peace and security with Israel. However, there can be no prospects of such when Gaza is run by an EU banned terrorist organisation wishing to destroy Israel.

"We wish to see negotiations for a Palestinian state to restart and we support the moderate leadership of President Abbas. We oppose calls to upgrade Palestine to observer-state status at the UN, as this might undermine the restart of the peace negotiations to establish a two state solution.

"Neither am I convinced of the calls on Israel to lift the blockade as I doubt that political guarantees or international mechanisms can ensure that there will be no maritime smuggling of arms to Gaza, particularly from Iran."