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Senator Bacik speaking on the Middle East: Statements February 2009

18 February 2009


Senator Ivana Bacik: I am grateful to Senator Norris for sharing his time. I regret the shortness of this debate. I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I appreciate the Government's strong condemnation of the Israeli bombardment in Gaza. It has been important and good to see the Government standing up for the rights of the Palestinian people. It has been deeply distressing for all of us to witness the murder of 1,300 Palestinians, one third of whom were children, about whom there could be no doubt that they were civilians. It is important we continue to press at EU level, and any level we can, to insist on the condemnation of the Israeli aggression in Gaza.Will the Minister of State continue to press for Israel's accountability for its clear breaches of international law and its committing war crimes against the Palestinian people? There is no doubt Israel targeted UN schools and homes where civilians were taking shelter. Israel should be held accountable for that. Pressure must also be put on Israel through the downgrading of the preferential status of Israel's trade agreements within the EU. Those trade agreements should be used to put pressure on Israel to maintain a ceasefire to allow access for doctors, medics and other people in and out of Gaza and to allow the construction and reparation there to continue.