Gaza, ALRAY - The Chairperson of the European Parliament's Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council (DPLC), Emer Costello, said "she is both astounded and dismayed at the decision of the Israeli authorities to refuse an official visit of the Delegation to Gaza,"
The visit, which was scheduled to take place between 27th and 30th October 2013, had the full support of Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament.
"Despite interventions by the President Schulz and other distinguished parliamentarians, the Israeli authorities are preventing elected members of an official delegation from paying a humanitarian visit to this ravaged and impoverished little country," Costello said in a statement.
The Israeli authorities claimed that refusal of access was because '(Israel) does not facilitate visits to the Gaza Strip which will strengthen Hamas'.
Nevertheless, no meetings with Hamas or representatives of Hamas were planned on the programme. This decision is deplorable and without foundation, according to the statement.
“Our visit was due to take place under the auspices of UNRWA, and clearly focused on vital public services such as schools, health centres and food distribution centres," Costello added.
She noted that “Today at the European Parliament, we voted on the budget line ‘financial assistance to Palestine, the peace process and UNRWA’, granting €300 million in funding to the region for 2014. This makes the decision to refuse access to elected Members of the European Parliament even more disgraceful and nonsensical."