Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in Palestine

Delivered in Plenary - 5th July 2006

Mr President

The escalation of tension in the Palestinian territory was provoked by the Hamas-led kidnapping of Corporal Shalit with unrealistic demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners. Coming on the back of the cold-blooded murder of a civilian settler and the continuing firing of Qassam rockets from Gaza on to Israeli civilian areas, Prime Minister Olmert had no choice but to launch the limited surgical intervention by the IDF. I too now call for Corporal Shalit’s immediate release.

Personally, I oppose any funding of a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority Government unless it renounces violence, disarms and recognises the right of the State of Israel to exist. Regrettably, the joint Hamas declaration with Fatah of 27 June, allegedly implicitly recognising Israel, reportedly remains an ambiguous document and Hamas does not clearly renounce violence.

In the past, millions of euros of our taxpayers’ money have been donated in aid to the Palestinian Authority with little to show for it in terms of securing a lasting peace as envisaged in Oslo in 1993. Instead, there has been widespread corruption. I personally, although accepting the democratic victory of Hamas – after all, Hitler was also elected democratically – continue to regard it as a banned terrorist organisation, as does the European Union and the USA, and therefore would never countenance supporting any funds for it until it convincingly changes its charter and terrorist ideology.

The recent Passover suicide bombing in Tel Aviv was publicly supported by the Hamas PA Government, which is an outrage. Nevertheless, the European Union, through the Quartet, must remain committed to lasting peace in the Middle East with a two-state solution whereby a viable, democratic Palestinian State can live in peace and security side by side with Israel within internationally recognised borders. I join all parties in this House in urging that Israel – the IDF in particular – Hamas and all the people involved in these ghastly events respect international law and avoid further bloodshed.