This evening the European Parliament discussed concrete steps that could be taken by the European Union in response to the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine that has left several people dead this month.

Chair of the EU Delegation for relations with Palestine, Martina Anderson, welcomed initiatives to bring peace and stability to the region, while cautioning that: “We must not allow Israel to divert attention away from its ongoing breaches of international humanitarian law by turning it into a religious conflict. And that is what their current restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa mosque (the site of some of the recent violence) are designed to do.” 

Anderson called on the international community to “demonstrate our commitment with action, because talk alone will not help the Palestinian people, nor the Israelis.”

She continued: “Placing Palestine under international protection is a necessary first step towards lowering tension and ultimately bringing peace.”

French MEP, Patrick Le Hyaric, told the Parliament: “There will be no peace if you don't face up to Israeli colonisiation. The EU has to state that and act accordingly.”

“The EU-Israel Association Agreement, and the associated programmes which often end up in military conflict, must be suspended in the interests of the Palestinians and the Israelis. You must act to set up an international protection force for the Palestinian people under the aegis of the UN which would provide security for the Israeli people at the same time,” he concluded.

Cypriot MEP, Neoklis Sylikiotis, contributed to the debate: “The root cause is the occupation. As long as it's in place, you´re not going to see peace; you will see a third and a fourth intifada. If you want to see peace, you´ve got to keep up the pressure on Israel. Should Israel be able to participate in initiatives such as Horizon 2020? We do have ways of bringing pressure to bear on Israel.”

Member of the Delegation for relations with Israel, Martina Michels, added: “As recently called for by Israeli writers and intellectuals, cultural bridges must be built. If hatred is allowed to flourish and there is no cooperation, then a solution to the conflict is not likely to get any closer.”

The discussion in the European Parliament followed a visit by Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to the region this week in which she met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to discuss 'concrete steps' to reduce the violence and tension.

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