MEPs from the Green Party and other parties have demanded an emergency debate in the European Parliament on the Gaza crisis - and have been rebuffed.
Jean Lambert, London's Green Euro-MP, issued the following statement today: "An immediate ceasefire is vital to prevent the further loss of innocent lives. Israel cannot justify this continued assault and the devastation it is bringing to the people of Gaza. The Greens called for an exceptional statement from the Council and Commission and an urgent debate on the crisis in the Parliament this week. It has been confirmed that the plenary debate will not take place, but an exceptional meeting of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee will be held tomorrow.
"Certainly this is not the time for the EU to be upgrading relations with Israel, indeed there is a case for examining the existing agreements. The EU needs a strong voice on this conflict, calling for a sustained ceasefire on both sides, since Hamas, too, bears responsibility for the deaths of civilians." Jean, who was named Justice and Human Rights MEP of the year in 2005, added,
"Being in Gaza almost a year ago I witnessed the severe suffering of Palestinians as a result of the siege, and a lack of medical equipment and other essential supplies. The situation now must be unbearable, with many hundreds dead and thousands injured as a result of the air strikes and ground offensive. "It is imperative that the provision of humanitarian aid takes into account the deficit of goods and services which existed prior to these latest attacks. As well as the emergency response, extensive supplies of health, housing and education resources will be needed to rebuild the lives and communities of those affected."