The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs visited Gaza today (Wednesday 25 January), crossing from Israel at Beit Hanoun in Northern Gaza. Baroness Cathy Ashton's visit was part of a tour to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel to encourage the two parties to resume peace negotiations. She began her visit at an industrial complex, administered by UNRWA, where she held a press conference to announce the allocation of $55 million for the UN agency. Thereafter, she went to a charity which works with deaf children, funded by the EU, where an agreement was signed to continue EU support for the project.
The Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Dr Ahmed Bahr, was critical of the visit. "Will the High Representative visit the Palestinian parliament in Gaza City which Israel destroyed during Operation Cast Lead?" he asked. "Or will she meet with the families of those killed and wounded, or see the homes of civilians which were bombed and destroyed?" He already knew the answer: of course not.
Undeterred, Dr Bahr also asked if Cathy Ashton would examine the suffering of the Palestinian people or would she pass by in the same casual manner as UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who visited the family of Israeli soldier and ex-hostage Gilad Shalit but refused to visit the homes belonging to the families of Palestinian prisoners.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad