Saturday, July 03, 2010

Germany / Israel / Palestine

German Parties Turn Up Pressure on Israel over Gaza
By Dave Graham
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, July 1, 2010
"The German parliament is due to back a rare cross-party motion later on Thursday demanding that Israel lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip immediately, in an unusual demonstration of unity against Israeli policy. The motion by lawmakers in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, her coalition partners the Free Democrats (FDP), and the main centre-left opposition parties follows calls from Germany that Hamas, which controls Gaza, should be brought into the negotiating process. Following the Nazi genocide of European Jews in World War Two, Germany's main political parties have staunchly supported Israel. They have also strongly criticised Hamas, an Islamist group which refuses to recognise Israel. However, the 2008 Israeli invasion and blockade of Gaza sparked criticism of Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist organisation and refuses to negotiate with it. 'The living conditions of the civilian population of Gaza must be urgently improved,' said the German motion, adding that the blockade -- which the government has already said should be ended -- was counterproductive and did not help to make Israel safer. ... The German parliamentary initiative also urges Merkel's government to press for a resumption of peace talks in the region. ... In parliament, only the Left Party did not help to draft the motion, but the far-left grouping would also support it, said its foreign policy spokesman Wolfgang Gehrcke. 'This marks a profound shift in policy towards Israel in Germany, in my view,' he said. [...]"

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