Mahmoud Abbas in European Parliament

04 February 2009
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today hailed an address by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Parliament in Strasbourg as a heartbreaking reminder of how far the peace process has to go, and pledged his continued support for a viable two state solution.

The Palestinian Authority President addressed a packed chamber in a solemn sitting. Mr Smith visited Gaza, the West Bank and Israel on a fact finding mission in late 2007, meeting with President Abbas in Ramallah and even then it seemed clear that conflict was inevitable.

Speaking after the meeting, Smith said:

"My heart goes out to President Abbas, listening to him outlining all the injustices done to the Palestinian people was just heartbreaking, especially when it is not a historic list but a continuing one.

"I have been hugely critical of therecent actions of the Israeli government, and remain critical of them now. There is no question that the Israeli state sought to use the period before the inauguration of US President Obama to create some sort of 'Year Zero' against Hamas in Gaza, and it would be brutally unfair were we to allow them to now talk of peace. It seems clearer and clearer that war crimes were committed in the recent offensive, in particular the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets and the use of phosphorous. These must be investigated and any perpetrators brought to account.

"Likewise President Abbas was dignified in his insistence that Israel must give up illegally occupied land, and return to the pre 1967 borders as agreed in the international accords. This has to be a prerequisite for any talks.

"When I visited the region I went hopeful and came back despondent. It seemed clear then that there was no meaningful desire for peace on the part of the Israeli leadership, and likewise many of the Palestinian leaders had been brutalised over so long a period they could not see a way to peace either.

"The international community has comprehensively failed both the Palestinian and Israeli people. President Abbas has called for international troops to intervene in the area and provide security guarantees to all sides. This seems to me the only way we can possibly have any hope of a long term solution."