February 21, 2008 - 7:17pm,7340,L-3509774,00.html

European Union lawmakers urged Israel on Thursday not to inflict "collective punishment" on Gaza's population, saying its isolation of the territory had failed and its actions were endangering civilians.


They urged Israel to lift a blockade which has cut supplies to the 1.5 million people in Gaza, run by the Islamist group Hamas, and let in aid and essential goods and services.

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"The policy of isolation of the Gaza strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level," the European Parliament said in an adopted resolution.


"The civilian population should be exempt from any military action and any collective punishment."


Israeli air strikes and ground incursions into the Gaza Strip have killed some 300 Palestinians in the past year, including dozens of civilians, but have failed to prevent rocket fire, which killed two Israelis in the same period.


"The European Parliament calls on Israel to cease military actions killing and endangering civilians, and extrajudicial targeted killings," The resolution said.


The lawmakers also urged Hamas to prevent the firing of rockets into Israel.


'Hamas not interested in forming state'

They called on the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas to hold a dialogue with Hamas, which is on the EU's list of terrorist organizations.


EU lawmakers have no power over the bloc's foreign policy.


Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Thursday that support for Hamas was undermining peace efforts.


"Europe must understand that Hamas is not an organization that is interested in forming a state," she said during talks in Jerusalem with her Romanian counterpart.



"Any indirect support of Hamas, even it is done through discussions on the crossings or the humanitarian situation, weakens those who are interested in reaching an agreement," she said, according to a foreign ministry statement.


Shunned by the West for refusing to renounce violence, Hamas has said it will cease fire if Israel stops military operations in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Hamas also demands an end to the Israeli-led blockade.


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