BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Officials decry world’s silence on Gaza

Protesters wave a Palestinian flag and flowers during a protest in Beirut against Israel's military action in Gaza REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

BEIRUT: Future Movement lawmakers condemned Wednesday the international community’s silence on the issue of the Israeli war on Gaza, while Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called for the creation of a global fund to assist the reconstruction effort.

MP Walid Jumblatt also vented his anger at Arab leaders and the international community for failing to come to Gaza’s aid. Israel’s offensive has killed at least 678 Palestinians, mostly civilians. At least 32 Israelis have also been killed.

“We are here to tell the world that we are standing by Gaza, by occupied Palestine, whose land has been ravished,” former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said at a solidarity press conference by Future MPs in the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia’s garden in Downtown Beirut.

“Your wounds are ours,” Siniora said, addressing the people of Gaza, “and you are fighting on the behalf of all of us.”

He compared the Israeli attacks on Gaza to the war on Lebanon in 2006, saying Israel’s goals would be defeated “again” with the strong will of the Palestinian people.

“The Lebanese succeeded in 2006 defeating the Israeli offensive due to their unity, and the strength and solidity of the resistance and its heroes,” he said.

He called on Palestinians to similarly unite behind the resistance and persist against the “continuous oppression” of Israel.

Siniora accused Israel of waging the war with the purpose of “breaking the Palestinian unity.”

He also blasted the international community for backing Israel while turning a blind eye to “rightful Palestinian demands.”

“They talk about Israel’s right to defend itself, and they forget the Palestinian people’s right for freedom, dignity and peaceful living,” he said.

Siniora addressed the Arab countries, calling on their people to acknowledge the necessity of bringing back the Palestinian cause as a top priority.

The MPs stood for a moment of silence for the souls of those killed in Gaza, and then proceeded to the ESCWA building, where they submitted a letter addressed to U.N. General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon through his representative in Lebanon. The letter called on Ban to take action to end the attacks.

Separately, Berri, who is also the head of the Amal Movement, called for the “creation of an Arab and international fund to reconstruct Gaza and the houses and properties that were destroyed in the Palestinian areas.”

His comments were made at a news conference in Ain al-Tineh, following a meeting with representatives of different Palestinian factions in Lebanon.

Berri also called for the siege of the narrow strip to be lifted and the opening of all crossings for Palestinian trade and laborers.

He said that achieving an end to the fighting and to the siege of Gaza could only be reached by maintaining Palestinian unity, which he said “has proven to be the most sustainable weapon against the barbaric Israeli offensive.”

Berri has called for Parliament to convene on July 26 at 12:30 p.m. to “show solidarity with Gaza against Israeli terrorism and with Christians in Mosul and the surrounding areas against takfiri terrorism.”

Berri said the session would be dedicated to discussing the actions that could be taken concerning the Gaza offensive.

He further praised the Palestinian cause as the only common belief between the Lebanese: “Thank God that the Palestinian cause has united March 8 and 14 ... despite them not having united over Lebanon.”

Jumblatt issued his own statement, in which he had some choice words for the international community, naming and shaming those countries he considered the most complicit in the bloodshed.

“The positions [of the international community] range from spectators who harbor a subconscious hatred for Gaza and the Palestinian people, to those who would excuse Israel’s ongoing assault, to the apathetic who [consider] the rising number of martyrs [mere digits],” Jumblatt said.

He went on to criticize France, Germany and the United States for supporting Israel, as well as Russia and Iran for abandoning the Palestinian cause in favor of their own national interests.

“Do Arab rulers ... not realize that only Palestine grants them the legitimacy to remain in power, and not the other way around?” he said. “To all those who are counting on Gaza being blown to bits, rest assured that the mutilated bodies of the martyrs will come for you all, and the entire Arab world will be chopped to pieces, and then anything will be possible and everything will be out of control.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 24, 2014, on page 3.

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Summary

Future Movement lawmakers condemned Wednesday the international community's silence on the issue of the Israeli war on Gaza, while Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called for the creation of a global fund to assist the reconstruction effort.

MP Walid Jumblatt also vented his anger at Arab leaders and the international community for failing to come to Gaza's aid.

"Your wounds are ours," Siniora said, addressing the people of Gaza, "and you are fighting on the behalf of all of us".

He compared the Israeli attacks on Gaza to the war on Lebanon in 2006, saying Israel's goals would be defeated "again" with the strong will of the Palestinian people.

Siniora accused Israel of waging the war with the purpose of "breaking the Palestinian unity".

He also blasted the international community for backing Israel while turning a blind eye to "rightful Palestinian demands".


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