The president of the European parliament, Jerzy Buzek crossed into the Gaza Strip today, via the Israeli Eretz crossing. He visited the Society for Deaf Children and a food distribution center for Palestinian refugees, located in the west of Gaza City. Buzek also visited the Tel al-Hawa district to follow up on the construction work undertaken by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), who are building two schools for Palestinian refugee children in the area.
Buzek later visited the headquarters of UNRWA in Gaza and met with representatives from several civil society institutions and other officials, which was then followed by a press conference. He asserted that the siege on the Gaza Strip must be lifted, and reiterated that its people must be allowed the same basic rights of freedom of movement and economic wellbeing as any other people.
During the press conference, the European official stressed the importance of resuming the negotiations; not least because of the 'winds of freedom' presently sweeping the region. He reaffirmed European support for a Palestinian state and the formation of a government of national unity.
When asked to comment on the recent letter (10th June) written by a group of prominent former politicians to US state secretary Hillary Clinton and EU high representative Catherine, urging them to support the reconciliation process between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, Buzek said that Hamas should be included in any dialogue. And yet he did not make time to meet with elected Hamas officials during his visit. Many observers in the territories believe that ignoring the elected Palestinian leadership at this delicate juncture would only serve to undermine efforts at reconciliation and the formation of a national unity government.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad