Friday, January 9, 2009

Lebanese, Palestinian Human Rights Organizations: EU is Party to Crimes Against Humanity

The Daily Star, Beirut, January 9, 2009 - A coalition of Lebanese and Palestinian NGOs have accused the European Union of being party to crimes against humanity by supporting Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Protesters gathered outside the EU's offices in Beirut on Thursday to deliver a letter slamming the 27-member bloc's response to the "crimes" in Gaza.

The letter, addressed to EU Ambassador to Lebanon Patrick Laurent, said the bloc "not only justifies these crimes, but has become party to them, by providing them legitimacy."

The organizations say the EU is taking no action to end the current military operation in Gaza by Israel, which they describe as a "massacre" and a "violation of human rights and crimes against humanity."

But EU officials have dismissed the accusations as being based on "misinformation."

Kamel Mohanna, coordinator of the Lebanese NGOs involved, said: "We ask [the EU] to take a fair position on the situation in Gaza. Our aim is to have a fair solution to problems facing Palestinians."....

But the EU said the letter was wrong in its analysis. Michael Miller, the head of political affairs in the EU commision's Beirut office, pointed to a common statement released by the bloc on December 30. "The EU statement on the situation in the Middle East is the only document setting out a EU common position," he said. "It calls for an immediate and permanent cease-fire: a halt to rocket attacks and to Israeli military action and immediate action to allow access for humanitarian aid. It also states that there is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the peace process should be stepped up."

"The EU has dispatched a field mission to assess how best to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by the fighting in Gaza," Miller said, adding that the bloc believed in maintaining a "critical dialogue" with Israel.

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