Breaking News Stories
These are news stories breaking after the publishing of this Word
– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
Prediction 14: Possible
EU troop movements to Israel and/or the Middle East
Abbas wants EU peacekeepers in the
The president of the Palestinian Authority urged Europe to play a bigger
role in the Middle East, renewing his calls for the presence of
international peacekeepers and election monitors in the region after the
Israeli war on Gaza, which he labelled a "war crime".
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (4
February), Mr Abbas said the time had come for the international
community to step in, detailing the suffering of Gazan civilians during
the January offensive by the Israeli military.
"I would like to stress again our request for the sending of
international forces in order to protect our people," he said.
"Until when will Israel retain a free hand to destroy the assets and
infrastructure of our people?" Mr Abbas asked.
He also pointed out that some of the infrastructure destroyed during the
three weeks of fighting was paid for by the European Union.
"We must not deal with Israel as if it is a state above accountability,
above international law," Mr Abbas said.
The EU is unlikely to send peacekeepers, although it does maintain 40
monitors on standby in Israel, waiting to be redeployed to the Gaza
border, from where they had been withdrawn in 2007 after a sectarian
struggle broke out between Islamist Hamas and secular rival Fatah for
control of the Palestinian Authority.
Mr Abbas said he is seeking a government of national reconciliation with
Hamas so the two sides could work together for the sake of the
Palestinian people, who are now split both geographically and
Asked later what Hamas would think of a unity government, Abbas said he
thinks they would support it.
"The national interest of Hamas is to achieve Palestinian national
unity," he said. "The interest does not lie in a homeland in two parts."
Hans-Gert Poettering, president of the European Parliament, said Europe
wanted to help both Israel and the Palestinians achieve peace.
Only a "government of national consensus" could ensure the unity of the
Palestinian people. The European Union would be willing to work with
such a government, prepared "to respect the basic principles of the
peace process, to renounce violence and commit itself to peace
negotiations with Israel," Mr Pottering said.
The president of the parliament said his institution wanted "a swift
resumption of the peace negotiations" and stressed that "internal
Palestinian reconciliation is a pre-condition for peace between Israel
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority announced on Wednesday a €465
million reconstruction programme for the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad said the programme would cover all Palestinian houses
destroyed or damaged during Israel's offensive.
War crimes on both sides
"There are crimes, and people who committed those crimes have to be held
responsible so that these crimes cannot be repeated," Mr Abbas said. "We
are stretching out our hand for peace with Israel, but what was done
were regretfully crimes of war."
He also criticised Hamas for bringing destruction to Gaza and said that
the movement's leader, Khaled Mashaal, could be taken to court in
another country for "drawing his people to this destruction."
Rights activists say Gaza's Hamas rulers and other Palestinian groups
committed war crimes by targeting Israeli civilians with rockets. They
also say Hamas' use of human shields, as alleged by Israel, would
constitute war crimes.
Human rights organisations, including B'Tselem, the Palestinian Centre
for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,
emphasise that investigations will take months and concede few venues
exist for any trials.
The International Criminal Court can only investigate if asked by the UN
Security Council or an involved state that has recognised the court.
Israel has never recognized its jurisdiction, and because only states
can recognise the court, the Palestinians also have no recourse to the