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Four EU leaders urge bloc to take firm position on Gaza

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Valletta, Dec 12 (IANS) The leaders of four EU member states have urged the bloc to agree on a firm position complete with sanctions on the situation in the West Bank.”We must avoid escalation in the West Bank, for which we propose imposing targetted travel bans and asset freezes on violent settlers who are attacking and displacing Palestinian settlers,” the leaders of Belgium, Ireland, Spain and Malta said in a letter addressed to European Council President Charles Michel and dated December 8.Highlighting the “death toll, level of destruction and the dire humanitarian situation” in Gaza, the letter said a clear and firm position by the EU was needed, Xinhua news agency reported.While reiterating their condemnation of Hamas and Israel’s right to defend itself “in line with international law,” the four countries said the EU had “reached a moment … where it must go further on three issues”.In addition to the travel bans and asset freezes, the leaders call for a “lasting humanitarian ceasefire” to end the hostilities; United Nations humanitarian agencies to be allowed to carry on their work unhindered; and for infrastructure in the strip to be restored.They said this should include the reopening of the Karem Shalom crossing, which straddles the Gaza-Egypt and Gaza-Israel borders, to allow food, water, medicine and fuel into the conflict-stricken Palestinian enclave.Calling the number of casualties in Gaza “unbearable,” the letter stressed the “urgent need” for a political process to implement a two-state solution.–IANSint/khz

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