Verhagen backs EU mission to Gaza

The Netherlands and Denmark have taken the diplomatic initiative to send an EU mission to monitor an eventual ceasefire in Gaza, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.

‘Both countries suggest that an EU mission should closely monitor the border between Egypt and Gaza,’ the statement said.
‘A speedy and permanent ceasefire is only possible if Israel is sure that Hamas will not rearm itself with rockets. Then the borders can be reopened and humanitarian and economic help allowed in,’ the ministry quoted foreign minister Maxime Verhagen as saying.
‘That means control of the border must be watertight. The Netherlands is prepared to look at how it can contribute to such international monitoring,’ the minister said.

Telephone contacts

Verhagen discussed the initiative by telephone with Israel’s foreign minister Tzipi Livni, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. He also contacted Iran’s foreign affairs minister Manouchehr Mottaki to try to get him to influence Hamas to stop the bloodbath, the ministry said.
Verhagen said he was shocked that there were so many victims of the fighting. ‘I regret that there have been so many civilian casualties on the Palestinian side, as I regret the civilian casualties in Israel,’ he said.
‘The Netherlands expects Israel to do all it can to prevent civilians becoming victims of this military campaign,’ he added.

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