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Protest letter from Greens to Israel over Gaza

13 July 2006

Protest letter from Greens to Israel over Gaza, Lebanon

Green Party MP Keith Locke today delivered a letter to Israel's Honorary Consul in Wellington, David Zwartz, expressing his party's concern at Israel's ongoing military attacks in Gaza, and now Lebanon, that are causing huge infrastructural damage, as well as killing and wounding many innocent civilians.

"I said that it was against international humanitarian law to impose collective punishment on hundreds of thousands of Gaza citizens for the transgressions of a few, by knocking out electricity plants and disabling water supplies.

"As a Member of Parliament, I expressed horror at the kidnapping of some 29 of my parliamentary colleagues on the West Bank and Gaza, and the bombing of the Palestine Prime Minister's office. The safety and freedom of the elected representatives of the people is critical to democracy and civilised relations between countries. Israel should be conducting a political dialogue with Palestinian politicians, not taking them hostage.

"I told the Honorary Consul that the seizure of one Israeli soldier cannot justify such a massive response. I explained that of course we condemn the kidnapping of Corporal Shalit, and that we have written to the General Palestinian Delegation office in Canberra asking for Mr Shalit's release.

"I asked the Israeli government to cease its attack on Gaza and enter negotiations with the Palestinian authorities to achieve Mr Shalit's release. It would be appropriate for these talks to address the grievances on both sides regarding the welfare of their people, including the future of the 10,000 Palestinians detained in Israeli jails.

"Ceasing the attacks would also provide a better climate for Fatah and Hamas to finalise their agreement about how to jointly enter negotiations with Israel for a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank, and the establishment there of a Palestinian state.

"I also also expressed grave concern that Israel is now bombing bridges and buildings in south Lebanon. I told the Honorary Consul that I had written to the Lebanese government asking them to facilitate the release of the Israeli soldiers.

ENDS

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