31 Jul 2011

Keith Taylor, Green MEP does good in Gaza

Keith Taylor, the new Green Party MEP who took over from Caroline Lucas when she became an MP, is currently touring the Middle East to see how the Green Party can input into the peace process. Excellent stuff, he seems to be playing a very positive role.

It was a groggy crew that were checking out of the hotel just six hours later, and our tribulations were only just beginning. When we got to Rafah (the only crossing into Gaza) it took us four hours to get through the border. Mind you we were the lucky ones. For Palestinians a wait of two or three days in the full glare of the sun and 35+ degree temperatures is commonplace. The Egyptians are not doing Palestinians any favours. Someone told me Egypt has 31,000 staff in its Security team, and a lot of them seem to have been at Rafah, shuffling papers about as if it were a new Olympic sport with the deliberate intent of delay and obfuscation.

I have never seen people treated quite as badly as the Palestinians were, and felt quite helpless that I couldn’t intervene.

Our entrance into Gaza was heralded by the sights of a territory under siege; public services not working, high unemployment and high poverty. The rubbish was piling up in the streets, in the rivers and on the beach. Just as hot as Cairo, the air was heavy and thick.

Our first meeting of the day was with a Palestinian prisoners families group. They told us of their husbands, brothers and sons incarcerated in Israeli jails, of harsh sentences on flimsy evidence and of refusals to allow families to visit their loved ones. Many of the families carried pictures of those imprisoned, and others momentos. One man even brought the blood spattered clothes his son was arrested in.

The girl in the picture below is cared for by her grandmother after losing her mother to illness. She hasn’t seen her father for six years, and the Israelis say she is a threat to security and won’t grant her permission to see her father.

Next we visited UNWRE, the UN agency for refugees, and spoke with the Acting Director there. UNWRE provide lifeline services to Palestinians. Education for 400,000 with 9,000 teachers, healthcare to 951,000 via 20 health centers, micro finance and rental assistance, 10,000 new homes and 1,000 new schools.

We heard about unemployment standing at 45%, that 29% of agricultural land lay within restricted military areas. We heard that Israel had prohibited exports from Palestine and imposed a long standing blockade which is strangling the economy. And what’s more, we heard that UNWRE funding was under threat and they faced having to cut back on the services they deliver, starting this October.

Our final meeting was with the Prime Minister of Gaza, who briefed us on the current situation in Gaza. He spoke passionately about his belief that peace is the only way that a settlement will be reached with Israel and within Gaza and the West Bank. He called for the lifting of the siege so that the economy can start working again.

You can read more here


Anonymous said...

Mr Haniyeh praised Osama bin Laden as a holy warrior, saying that Hamas condemns the assassination of "a Muslim and Arabic warrior" and prays that bin Laden's "soul rests in peace".

Hamas minister of culture (on Al-Aqsa TV, April 8, 2011, translation by MEMRI) said:

“The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth, because they have displayed hostility to Allah.

“Allah will kill the Jews in the hell of the world to come, just like they killed the believers in the hell of this world.

“The Jews kill anyone who believes in Allah. They do not want to see any peace whatsoever on Earth.”

Derek, that's a minister in a political party. Bit like Ken Clarke you know? Whatever your views on Israel, those people are retarded, blinded-by-a-fascist-religion-cunts. Get with the program.

Derek Wall said...

yes I have pretty major problems with Hamas but post anything about Palestine and the abusive comments role.

I think they are worth reading though and illustrate the hatred shown to Palestinians.

I may not like Hamas but I can't see how they can be excluded from a process of peace and justice.

Good for Keith for going over to Gaza!

Anonymous said...

Mr Taylor has an impossible task unless he can persuade the EU parliament to reconsider EU bi-lateral trade with Israel without which Israel would not have the economic power to blockade Gaza and keep 1.6 million people restricted by air, sea and road.

Politicians in Israel are either in the arena for self-enrichment or self-empowerment. Corruption is endemic and has been so for decades. There is no sense of public duty or altruism, or even patriotism. Human rights are considered a joke. More and more disenchanted Israelis emigrate to the US or UK - in Britain over 10% of the Jewish population are now Israeli immigrants. In the midst of this corruption, the number living on or below subsidence level in Israel rises each year in line with emigration. Nevertheless, weapon & arms manufacturers continue to thrive as does the pharmaceutical industry which relies on the European market for its profits - in particular the NHS in Britain. Machine guns, remote-attack drones (that can bomb anyone, anywhere), together with chemicals and cluster bombs, are all excellent exports to regimes worldwide. Real estate prices continue to rise in Tel Aviv’s Herzlia as luxury seaside villas change hands at millions of dollars to exporters and their overseas clients. Its a cosy ‘scratch my back’ society where the ordinary man in the street strives to feed his family. All together, a chilling example of a non-democratic society at work and play that uses government funding and propaganda to support its lifestyle at the expense of the ordinary majority. JRDK/london

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