Debate: MEPs call for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 

A picture taken from the Israeli Gaza border shows smoke billowing from the Gaza Strip following an Israeli air strike on 16 July ©BELGA/AFP/J.GUEZ  

MEPs from across the political spectrum condemned the recent wave of violence in Gaza and Israel during a debate on Wednesday evening and urged all parties to immediately agree to a ceasefire. They vote today on a resolution on the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine.

Speaking on behalf of the EU's high representative for foreign affairs Catherine Ashton, Italian foreign affairs under-secretary Benedetto Della Vedova, condemned “the indiscriminate launching of rockets towards Israel by militant groups in the Gaza Strip”, adding that “the Union deplores the growing number of civilian victims coming from the Israeli military operation”. Mr Della Vedova called for an immediate cessation of all hostilities through a ceasefire agreement proposed by Egypt.

Cristian Preda, a Romanian member of the EPP group, said both sides should make credible efforts to relaunch the peace process and ensure peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. "The answer to this crisis is certainly not more violence," he added.

Victor Boştinaru, a Romanian member of the S&D group, said "The death of children and innocents is simply unacceptable." He added that the EU's role "is in mediating and calming the tension" but that "the European voice is still too shy and ineffective".

Bas Belder, a Dutch member of the ECR group, stressed the humanitarian crimes perpetrated by Hamas: "To put it succinctly, Hamas is using its own citizens in the Gaza strip as shields. So it is no coincidence that Hamas is on the EU list of terrorist organizations."

Ivo Vajgl, a Slovenian member of ALDE; said that the cycle of rising tension and aggression is disrupting any belief in lasting peace. "We have witnessed a humanitarian disaster… We need to condemn all the crimes that have taken place," he said.

Martina Anderson, a UK member of the GUE/NGL group, called the draft joint resolution "a woeful attempt” that ignores the causes of the conflict. “Israel must lift the blockade on Gaza and stop the slaughter," she said.

Tamás Meszerics, a Hungarian member of the Green group, called for a stronger EP resolution. “There is no mention of the European Union in the [draft] resolution; it should play a key role in the region and the nearest countries,” he said.

Fabio Massimo, an Italian member of the EFDD group, urged Europe to take a stand against extremism since this is the main enemy of peace. “We are in favour of the innocent civilians, unlucky to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

Marcel de Graaff, a non-attached member from the Netherlands, said Hamas “are murderers and terrorists who don’t listen to reason. We have to put an end to this escalation and terror”.