MEP pushes for peace

Date published: 18 October 2011

A Rochdale MEP who met with the father of Gilad Shalit to discuss prospects for his release has welcomed the return home of the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas.

Chris Davies says that Israel's decision to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners opens a prospect for progress towards Middle East peace that must not be missed.

The Liberal Democrat MEP, who will later this month be making a fifth visit to Gaza, said that the Israeli Government had taken a brave decision.

He said: "I am a strong critic of Israel's illegal military occupation of Palestinian land, but I do not underestimate the difficulties that Israel has faced in this instance.

"Israel has negotiated with Hamas, its bitter enemy, and although many of the prisoners released were guilty only of resisting occupation their numbers included some who had killed innocent people."

Davies praised the Israeli government for demonstrating that it was prepared to make decisions that would be opposed by many of its citizens.

He said: "An agreement between Israelis and Palestinians will require many tough decisions that will be unpopular with people on both sides.

"Every effort should be made to build on this small step forward and press for progress on peace and the creation of an independent Palestinian state."

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